Donald Trump, president-elect of the United States; it’s a phrase that we’re still getting used to, two weeks after the dramatic conclusion to the US Presidential election. The result has sent shockwaves of uncertainty around the globe as analysts and pundits try to ascertain what the administration of a man who has never held elected office before will look like.
Particularly poignant is the task of unpicking which of Trump’s – seemingly off the cuff – policy announcements made throughout the campaign are real and which are not. Throughout the campaign he was frequently called out by his critics for brazen lies, so it’s perfectly reasonable to take his comments with a pinch of salt.
There has been some concern in the week since Trump’s victory regarding his views on climate change, and the environment. Considering that the USA produces more CO2 emissions than any other – except China – it’s easy to see why people are worried. We had a look back on a number of Trump’s public comments on the environment over the years to try and figure out his position on the environment.
1. Climate change denial
In 2012, Donald Trump tweeted the following:
When called out on these views at the first televised debate with Hillary Clinton, he denied ever making these comments at all. However…
2. Climate change denial #2
In 2014, Trump repeated his claims of climate change denial with the following tweets:
These remarks, and the one he made in 2012 paint an interesting picture of the president-elect. They seem to suggest that he believes the existence of snow debunks climate change, and that it’s a hoax invented by China to restrict US industry. More poignantly, does his denial of ever making these remarks when face-to-face with Hillary Clinton in 2016 mean that he’s changed his views? Or has he simply attempted to mask them in public?
3. Wind farms ‘unhealthy’
In 2012, Trump tweeted this:
The source cited in his tweet is a somewhat dubious study, which is based around the opinions of one expert, citing figures from ‘research’ he has done without any methodology or sample size provided. It’s bad science, which provides no compelling reason to believe its outrageous claims. Of course, we live in an information age where much of the information we come across online is false. I’m sure many people reading this have been hoodwinked by a false article before. Is that what’s happening here, or does it reveal Trump’s true views on renewables?
4. Trump takes on the Paris Agreement
While on the campaign trail in May 2016 Trump said:
“We’re going to cancel the Paris Climate Agreement, and stop… all payments of the United States’ tax dollars to UN global warming programs.”
A key part of Trump’s campaign – and one that won him states with a traditional manufacturing background – was his support for American industry. In a speech in May this year he outlined plans to ‘cancel’ the Paris Agreement, presumably to allow for more fossil fuel jobs to be created during his presidency.
The Paris Agreement only took effect on the 4th November 2016 – mere days before Trump was elected. In order to take effect it had to be agreed upon by countries responsible for 76% of the world’s emissions. Outgoing president Barack Obama signed up the USA – responsible for 18% of the world’s emissions – for the Agreement. A Trump staffer has reaffirmed his commitment to this since his election. Could a US withdrawal put the entire Agreement in jeopardy? Supporters of the Paris Agreement are playing down the threat, but this is a legitimate possibility.
5. A commitment to renewables?
The above paints a grim picture of the president-elect’s views on the environment, but perhaps all is not as bad as it seems. When asked in September 2016 what a Trump administration would do to combat climate change, Donald Trump said:
“There is still much that needs to be investigated in the field of climate change. Perhaps the best use of our limited financial resources should be in dealing with making sure that every person in the world has clean water. Perhaps we should focus on eliminating lingering diseases around the world like malaria. Perhaps we should focus on efforts to increase food production to keep pace with an ever-growing world population. Perhaps we should be focused on developing energy sources and power production that alleviates the need for dependence on fossil fuels. We must decide on how best to proceed so that we can make lives better, safer and more prosperous.
The first line reveals Trump’s well-documented scepticism about the existence of climate change, but he goes on to say that he wants to wipe out Malaria, and ensure that everyone has clean water to drink and food to eat. Additionally, in a line that we’ve bolded out, Trump highlights a need to create more power sources that alleviate the need for fossil fuels. The addition of the word ‘perhaps’ feels a little non-committal, but this is a promising indication of how Trump’s energy policy will look. Regardless of the president-elect’s views on climate change, we agree with him that the USA and other superpowers should start to limit their reliance on fossil fuels
We look forward to seeing how Mr Trump approaches his energy policy, and we hope that he keeps to his word and begins to restrict American reliance on fossil fuels.
Proton Motor is a leading manufacturer of hydrogen fuel cells and fuel cell systems for mobile, maritime and stationary applications.