United States president Donald Trump has described climate change as important to him, saying clean air and clean water were top of his environmental agenda.
“Climate change is very important to me,” the US president said, speaking at a press conference ahead of NATO’s 70th-anniversary summit in London yesterday. “I believe very strongly in very crystal-clear, clean water and clean air. That’s a big part of climate change.”
Asked whether he was not concerned about rising seas, Trump changed the subject, saying he was “also concerned about nuclear proliferation.”
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Notorious for his attempts to mock global warming and international mitigation efforts, Trump has often demonstrated a lack of knowledge and awareness on climate change, which denotes a long-term change in the earth’s climate with impacts on average weather conditions, encompassing changes in temperature, shifts in precipitation, increased likelihood of severe weather events.
When severe cold and record amounts of snow swept across the nation’s east coast two years ago, the president confused weather with climate, calling for global warming to counteract the icy temperatures.
Trump once even dismissed climate change as a hoax created by the Chinese to destroy American jobs.
Two years ago, Trump announced he would remove the United States—the world’s second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases—from the Paris Agreement signed and ratified by Obama, citing concerns that the accord aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions could undermine the nation’s economy.
In April this year, his administration followed through on Trump’s statement of intent, beginning the formal process of withdrawing from the climate deal.
The US’ original emissions reduction pledge set down in the accord accounted for a fifth of the global emissions to be avoided by 2030. This means the nation’s absence from international efforts to cut carbon emissions would help push the global temperature rise to well beyond 2C.
Trump has made a name for himself as a vigorous opponent to environmental protection, steadily rolling back conservation laws implemented by the previous administration, including pollution regulations for drilling companies, rules protecting wetlands and streams, and other regulations on air pollution, toxic substances and the safeguarding of endangered species.
Last year, the US’ carbon emissions saw the largest spike in years, driven by the nation’s soaring power demand, growing fuel consumption and increased air travel.
Experts have pointed out that climate change will hurt the American economy, put society at risk and threaten national security, with wildfires, extreme heat, droughts and coastal flooding expected to cause growing losses to infrastructure and impede economic growth, particularly in regions dependent on tourism and agriculture, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Some of the nation’s biggest cities, including New York, Miami and Boston, rank among those vulnerable to coastal flooding as sea levels rise. In New York alone, over 400,000 people are projected to be at risk of being affected by rising seas by 2050.
At yesterday’s press conference, Trump also voiced his concerns over plastic pollution, which is already impacting marine life off the country’s coast, saying “certain countries are dumping unlimited loads of things in the ocean.”
A recent report revealed the US to be the biggest driver of the world’s waste crisis. The country generates 12 per cent of global municipal waste—three times the global average—but adequately recycles only 35 per cent, the study showed.