Sun, Dec 02, 2018 - Page 7 News List

Trump dismantling US climate efforts as warnings grow dire

By Matthew Lee, Michael Biesecker and Tom Krisher  /  AP, WASHINGTON

US President Donald Trump has moved steadily to dismantle efforts to rein in coal, oil and gas emissions introduced by former US President Barack Obama’s administration, even as warnings grow — from his own administration and others — about the devastating impact of climate change on the US economy and the Earth.

Trump has dismissed his administration’s warnings about the effects of climate change, including a forecast released on Friday that it could lead to economic losses of hundreds of billions of US dollars a year by the end of the century.

“As to whether or not it’s man-made and whether or not the effects that you’re talking about are there, I don’t see it,” he said in an interview with the Washington Post on Tuesday.

Trump’s position has been that efforts to combat the emissions that cause climate change have hurt the US economy.

As he announced the US’ withdrawal from the Paris global climate accord in June last year, he said: “The Paris Climate Accord is simply the latest example of Washington entering into an agreement that disadvantages the United States to the exclusive benefit of other countries, leaving American workers — who I love — and taxpayers to absorb the cost in terms of lost jobs, lower wages, shuttered factories and vastly diminished economic production.”

An e-mail obtained by reporters under the US Freedom of Information Act showed that the administration withdrew from the Paris agreement with no clear climate policy in place.

“All, the purpose of this meeting is to explore whether, post-Paris, we need to develop, or simply piece together from what already exists, a policy proposal that can be characterized as the ‘Trump climate policy,’” Michael Catanzaro, a former oil and gas lobbyist then serving as Trump’s energy and environment consultant, wrote to White House and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials, days after the president’s announcement.

The EPA did not respond to requests for details on the meeting or on any subsequent Trump climate policy.

In an e-mail on Wednesday, the US Department of State said that the US is still taking part in global climate talks, despite pulling out of the Paris accord.

That includes a State Department delegation to UN climate talks starting next week in Poland, a follow-up to the Paris talks.

“The United States continues to participate in ongoing international climate negotiations — including those related to guidance for implementing the Paris Agreement to ensure a level playing field that benefits the United States, its workers and its taxpayers,” the department said in a statement.

The initial shock of the abrupt US retreat from the Paris accord galvanized international support for climate efforts, said Nigel Purvis, who worked on climate issues in former US presidents Bill Clinton’s and George W. Bush’s administrations.

It “brought other nations even closer together and they’re even more committed,” Purvis said.

However, in the longer term, the Trump administration’s retreat on climate change might hurt, showing governments and companies that they can flout global concerns about coal, oil and gas emissions and not be held accountable, he said.

In the US, the Trump administration has initiated a rollback of a complex Obama-era effort to power the nation’s electrical grid with more renewable energy and less coal.

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