On Thursday afternoon, President Donald Trump announced that he would withdraw the United States from the Paris agreement, the international climate accord to limit global warming. “We’re following through on our commitments, and I don’t want anything to get in our way,” he said. “In order to fulfill my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord.”
Trump’s decision was a devastating blow to the planet, first and foremost, and also to environmentalists, corporations, the military, and U.S. allies, all of which had urged him to keep President Barack Obama’s promise to the world. It was a victory for ultra-conservatives, nationalists, fossil-fuel industries, and Trump himself, who fulfilled yet another one of his campaign pledges to favor polluters over the environment.
While Trump has failed to keep many of his “commitments”—there’s no wall, Obamacare is still in place, and China has not been labeled a currency manipulator—he is making good on his pledge to dismantle the individual facets of Obama’s environmental policies. In a May 2016 speech, he laid out his eight-part, 100-day “America First Energy Plan,”:
- We’re going to rescind all the job-destroying Obama executive actions including the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule.
- We’re going to save the coal industry and other industries threatened by Hillary Clinton’s extremist agenda.
- I’m going to ask Trans Canada to renew its permit application for the Keystone Pipeline.
- We’re going to lift moratoriums on energy production in federal areas
- We’re going to revoke policies that impose unwarranted restrictions on new drilling technologies. These technologies create millions of jobs with a smaller footprint than ever before.
- We’re going to cancel the Paris Climate Agreement and stop all payments of U.S. tax dollars to U.N. global warming programs.
- Any regulation that is outdated, unnecessary, bad for workers, or contrary to the national interest will be scrapped. We will also eliminate duplication, provide regulatory certainty, and trust local officials and local residents.
- Any future regulation will go through a simple test: is this regulation good for the American worker? If it doesn’t pass this test, the rule will not be approved.
Trump is keeping his promise to “cancel” the Paris agreement, as well as his promise to cancel payments to the United Nations for global warming programs. In his speech Thursday, Trump said he would terminate all U.S. contributions to the Green Climate Fund, which exists under the 1992 international United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
While a few of Trump’s campaign promises would be nearly impossible to accomplish—“save the coal industry,” for instance—most of them have been met or are in the works. Trump lifted the moratorium on coal leasing on federal lands, and started the legal process of repealing rules limiting fracking on federal lands. He approved the Keystone XL pipeline. This week, his EPA halted regulations limiting methane pollution from oil and gas companies. Trump has not yet rescinded the Climate Action Plan or the Waters of the U.S. rule, a complicated legal undertaking that is likely to take years, but he has started that process by signing executive orders directing the EPA to eliminate both rules. With the anti-regulatory crusader Scott Pruitt at the helm of EPA, there’s little doubt that the agency will attempt to do exactly that.
The list above doesn’t even include every anti-environmental promise Trump made on the campaign trail. For instance, he pledged to “end the EPA intrusion” into Americans’ lives, and as president he proposed a 31 percent cut to the agency, the largest percentage cut for any department in his budget. Congress is unlikely to approve such a steep cut, but like the Paris deal, it’s proof that Trump was dead serious about dismantling America’s efforts to fight climate change.