“Coal is not com­ing back. While the president is tak­ing big ac­tion, he is doomed to fail.”

Move to roll back Obama-era cli­mate mea­sures

New Straits Times - - News -

TRIP VAN NOP­PEN, Earthjus­tice president

UNITED States President Don­ald Trump de­clared an end to a “war on coal” on Tues­day, as he moved to curb rules that un­der­pin Amer­i­can emis­sions tar­gets and a ma­jor global cli­mate ac­cord.

Fol­low­ing through on an elec­tion prom­ise, Trump signed an or­der to re­view some of Barack Obama’s cli­mate legacy, declar­ing an end to “job-killing reg­u­la­tions”.

He or­dered a re­view of emis­sion lim­its for coal-fired power plants and eased up re­stric­tions on fed­eral leas­ing for coal pro­duc­tion.

He said the mea­sures her­ald “a new era in Amer­i­can en­ergy, pro­duc­tion and job cre­ation”.

Crit­ics said rolling back Obama’s Clean Power Plan was un­likely to re­sult in a boost to pro­duc­tion or cre­ate sub­stan­tial num­bers of jobs.

Amer­ica’s coal in­dus­try has long been in de­cline, with nat­u­ral gas, cheap re­new­able en­ergy, au­to­ma­tion and ge­ol­ogy mak­ing the fuel a less lu­cra­tive prospect.

In 2008, there were 88,000 coal min­ers in the US, ac­cord­ing to the US En­ergy In­for­ma­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion.

To­day, the num­ber of coal min­ers has fallen around 25 per cent.

But, some ex­perts and en­vi­ron­men­tal groups warned Trump’s or­der could be the open­ing salvo of an ef­fort to un­der­mine in­ter­na­tion­ally agreed tar­gets un­der the Paris Cli­mate Ac­cord.

Curb­ing emis­sions from coal­fired power plants was a pil­lar of Amer­ica’s com­mit­ment to cut car­bon emis­sions by 26 to 28 per cent by 2025.

“It will make it vir­tu­ally im­pos­si­ble” for the US to meet its tar­get, said Bob Ward, a cli­mate spe­cial­ist at the Lon­don School of Eco­nomics.

“Whether we stay in (the Paris deal) or not is still un­der dis­cus­sion,” a se­nior US ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial said.

En­ergy gi­ant Exxon Mo­bil has asked the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion not to scrap US’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in the pact, and vet­er­ans of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion played down the im­pact of Trump’s ac­tions.

Obama’s for­mer chief en­vi­ron­men­tal ad­viser de­scribed the ex­ec­u­tive or­der as “ter­ri­ble”, but said “it isn’t the ball game”.

He said any dam­age could be mit­i­gated in the courts and states, which are tasked with com­ing up with emis­sions re­duc­tion plans.

“Even if the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion wants to pre­tend... that cli­mate change is not a big deal, peo­ple all over the world think it is a big deal,” said Todd Stern, who led US cli­mate ne­go­tia­tors from 2009 to 2016.

Cal­i­for­nia and New York — two of the most pop­u­lous states — had al­ready said they would press ahead with cli­mate mit­i­ga­tion plans.

Dur­ing the 2016 elec­tion cam­paign, Trump donned a hard hat and em­braced min­ers from Ken­tucky to West Vir­ginia, promis­ing to re­turn jobs to long-rav­aged com­mu­ni­ties. He won both states by a land­slide. AFP

REUTERS PIC

President Don­ald Trump hold­ing an ex­ec­u­tive or­der on ‘en­ergy in­de­pen­dence’ in Wash­ing­ton on Tues­day.

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