In February 2017 President Trump designated Scott Pruitt as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, a job he held until July 2018. For Mr. Pruitt carbon dioxide was not an important factor in global warming. After his arrival the budget of the agency was cut by more than 30% and employees were reduced by about 25%. Mr. Pruitt had to resign in the midst of scandals related to conflicts of interest and revelations of misconduct. He was replaced by Andrew Wheeler, who had been a coal industry lobbyist. During this time President Trump ordered the removal of practically all environmental regulations established by the Obama administration. Now, in March 2019, he is cutting the budget of the environmental agency by 70%, from $2.3 billion to about $700 million. Obviously President Trump has decided that the use of fossil fuels, oil, gas and coal should keep expanding, in complete disregard, almost contempt, for renewable and cleaner sources of energy.
Trump’s political decision is not shared or followed by his own agencies. The U.S. government report on the environment, produced within the Trump administration, leaves no doubt that it considers the use of fossil fuels as the major threat to the global environment. In the December 2018 meeting held in Poland, the Silesia declaration affirming the need for a rapid transition to cleaner fuels, was signed by almost all the presidents and heads of states of the planet, with the notable exception of what has been termed by conservationists the Axis of Evil: Russia, Saudi Arabia and the United States. However, an unofficial U.S. delegation of U.S. scientists was instrumental in reinforcing the thesis of the final document of the Conference, which demands a rapid global weaning off oil and coal.
Working in opposition to President Trump’s preference for coal and oil U.S some 39 states plus the District of Columbia are now committed to increase the use of renewable energy sources in their output of electricity by adopting the Renewable Portfolio Standard Policies, while promoting the expansion of solar, wind and other renewable energy sources.
While President Trump discourages the imports of solar panels from China by raising tariffs, strong moves towards the phasing out of fossil fuels as a main source of energy are taking place all over the world. The Norway’s Sovereign Fund, the largest in the world at some $ 1 trillion, has decide to get rid of all its oil and gas investments, including some $37 billion which are currently invested in its own national company oil production assets.
Even the main beneficiaries of President Trump policies, the major oil companies, are actively investing in renewable sources of energy. French company TOTAL has established a goal of generating 20% of its business from low-carbon products by 2040. Exxon Mobil is allocating one billion dollars per year to research focused on synthetic non-fossil fuels while investing heavily on solar energy. Shell, BP and Chevron are also significantly involved in companies generating energy from renewable sources.
Everybody but President Donald Trump and his die hard followers seems convinced that the planet is in grave danger of becoming uninhabitable for the human race, unless drastic measures are taken regarding carbon emissions. Let us hope that he changes his mind soon or, failing this, that the country finds a more environmentally conscious leader in 2020.