U.S. election 2020: what is Trump’s environmental record?


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Mr Trump addresses press ahead of forest fire briefing

As wildfires erupt in western states and a new hurricane hits America’s southern coast, President Donald Trump has sparked controversy by questioning the science around climate change.

At the same time, he called himself a “great environmentalist”, praising successes in conservation, protection of fauna and the ban on certain offshore drilling.

We looked at what he said and did on environmental issues.

Trump: “It’s going to start to cool down. Just look… I don’t think science knows that, actually.

These comments were in response to California Secretary of Natural Resources Wade Crowfoot, who told the President, “We want to work with you to really recognize climate change. “

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President Trump speaks during wildfire briefing with local and federal fire and emergency officials in Sacramento

Mr. Trump has received a lot of criticism from scientific experts on this issue.

Dr Chris Brierley, associate professor of climate science at UCL, said the world is heating up and will continue to do so.

“You will have abnormally cold years and abnormally warm years, but it’s definitely increasing,” he said.

And there is an overwhelming scientific consensus that the rise in temperatures is due to human actions.

NASA, the US space agency, says: “Numerous studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals show that 97% or more of climatologists who actively publish agree that global warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities. ”

But the president has shown little to no commitment to tackling climate change and last year withdrew the United States from the Paris Agreement, a multilateral deal aimed at tackling global warming.

Trump: “Right now we look the cleanest we’ve ever had in this country, say in the last 40 years. “

Over the past decades, air quality – a measure of six major pollutants – has improved dramatically in the United States.

From 1970 to 2019, the overall level of these pollutants fell by 77%, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

And that trend has largely continued in Mr. Trump’s administration, dropping 7% between 2017 and 2019, which is why the EPA says the United States currently looks the purest ever. checked in.

Air pollution in the United States has improved

But the question of whether these achievements are the result of actions taken by the president or part of a longer-term trend to move away from polluting energy sources such as coal is disputed by experts.

“His administration’s decisions to weaken many air quality standards reveal his clear intention to deteriorate air quality in the long term,” says H Christopher Frey, professor at North Carolina State University and former chief of the EPA’s Scientific Council on Air Quality. board.

Other factors such as weather events can also have a big impact on pollution.

Trump: “We’re just a small dot. They constitute a great preponderance of pollution ”.

President Trump said this in reference to China, India and Russia, seeking to minimize the US contribution to greenhouse gas emissions.

“Nobody ever talks about it,” he said.

World powers carbon dioxide emissions

But the United States is the second largest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world, behind China.

And when you watch the shows per person, they rank higher than the three countries Mr. Trump mentioned.

Per capita greenhouse gas emissions

Trump: “I am committed to ensuring that the United States has the cleanest water in the world. “

The United States is ranked 26th in the world for sanitation and drinking water, according to the 2020 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) from Yale University.

In this ranking, Finland, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland and the United Kingdom have the cleanest water.

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Colorado River

The government has been criticized for repealing the 2015 rule on US waters.

This had imposed limits on the polluting chemicals that could be used near water bodies, but was considered restrictive for farmers and industrial workers.

“Revisions to the US waters rule remove significant numbers of waters and wetlands from the protection of the Clean Water Act, which could impact water quality and destroy more wetlands, ”says Hana Vizcarra, environmental lawyer at Harvard. University.

Trump: “I signed the Great American Outdoors Act, the largest investment in our national parks in over a century.

The US Congress has approved $ 9.5 billion (£ 7.5 billion) in funding for national parks over the next five years.

The bill, backed by Democrats and Republicans, will also increase funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, established in 1965, by $ 900 million per year.

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Parc National de Yosemite

President Trump had previously expressed his support for cutting conservation funding, but changed his mind this summer and signed the bill.

But while this legislation has been widely praised, most have stopped calling it the biggest investment in over a century.

“Passing the Great American Outdoors Act is quite simply the most significant conservation investment in decades,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation.

And National Parks Conservation Association President and CEO Theresa Pierno said, “This is the biggest investment our country has made in our national parks and public lands in over 50 years. “

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