Why is politics so controversial

Climate and environmental protection in the USAThe Trump administration's controversial environmental policy

When US Department of Energy executives talk about fossil fuels, they get downright lyrical: "Molecules of US freedom." This is what the Trump administration calls natural gas and oil, although climate science clearly names their combustion as the cause of global warming. US President Donald Trump raves about clean, beautiful coal, even though coal has the highest carbon footprint of all fossils.

Trump has translated this attitude into politics. Since taking office, he has abolished or relaxed around 100 climate and environmental regulations, including the limit values ​​for methane, which escapes primarily during natural gas production, and emission limits for coal-fired power plants. The result? According to an analysis by the US consulting firm Rhodium Group, the world's second largest CO2 emitter - after China - could pump 1.8 billion tons of additional carbon dioxide into the air in the next 15 years. That is more than Russia's annual emissions.

(dpa / picture-alliance / Nati Harnik) Construction projects in the USA - Trump wants less environmental assessment
US President Donald Trump wants to override environmental laws in order to be able to implement infrastructure projects such as oil pipelines or roads more quickly. A flood of lawsuits could prevent the proposed new regulation from going into effect until the elections.

A disaster, says William Buzbee, professor of environmental law at Georgetown University in Washington: "We have the most environmentally and rule-hostile government in the history of the modern United States."

Limit values ​​for toxic chemicals abolished

Trump's biggest coup is the exit from the Paris climate agreement, says Andrew Revkin, communications expert for climate protection at Columbia University. "Without the US, the almost 200 states party to the agreement will certainly find it very difficult to motivate each other to decarbonise the global economy as quickly as possible."

The fact that global warming has long been considered a fire accelerator for forest fires in Oregon and California does not dampen the Trump administration's desire for deregulation. For example, it has abolished the stricter limits for toxic chemicals if they occur in the environment near watercourses - and ignored scientific evidence that they are harmful. Nonetheless, US Vice President Mike Pence recently declared during the Vice Presidency debate: "... we are committed to the environment and follow the recommendations of science ..."

There is a lack of expertise in the EPA

For example, US CO2 emissions fell by three percent last year. That's right, confirm the analysts of the Rhodium Group. The reason, however, is that coal, which was so highly praised by Trump, has been replaced by cheaper, renewable energies such as wind power. In addition, many highly respected employees of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have left their posts because the Trump administration is hostile to science, says Thomas McGarity, professor of environmental law at the University of Texas at Austin: "The EPA now lacks expertise and knowledge that is urgent are needed and irreplaceable. "

When environmentalists took the deregulation policy to court, however, the Trump administration was unusually often left behind. She acted negligently and ignored necessary procedures, says Bill Buzbee. She was even legally banned from building large projects like the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. A victory for environmental protection, says the lawyer, but warns:

"If the government attorneys revise the carelessly worded court documents again, they can submit them again and then perhaps have more success" - if the US presidential election results in Donald Trump's favor.

The future of environmental protection worldwide depends on the election result

Very clear: November 3rd, 2020 will decide the future of climate and environmental protection - possibly worldwide. If Democratic challenger Joe Biden wins, he could reverse many of Trump's decisions. But if Donald Trump moves into the White House again, the four years of neglect of climate and environmental protection will not be able to catch up, experts like Andrew Revkin warn.

"All environmental groups right now are doing nothing but working to make sure Joe Biden wins the election. Only then can they try to get back to the momentum we lost in the last four years."