Trump climate change policy concerns BEST
Environmental group BEST has expressed serious concern over President Donald Trump’s decision to roll back Obama rules aimed at curbing climate change.
Stuart Hayward, president of the Bermuda Environmental and Sustainability Taskforce, said his feelings ranged from trepidation to mild surprise at news of the latest executive order.
He told The Royal Gazette that the move signalled a worrying shift from the United States being the “good guy” in leading global efforts towards sustainable energy solutions to the “bad guy”.
“The changes that are occurring in some ways are unfathomable,” said Mr Hayward.
“We always assumed that the US was going to be a responsible global partner. Whether they went to the left or the right there was still a policy of good global citizenship.
“It appears that is changing rapidly and decisively. There are feelings that range from trepidation to mild surprise.”
President Trump said last week that the move to roll back his predecessors’ attempts to tackle climate change would put an end to the “war on coal” and “job-killing regulations”.
The Energy Independence Executive Order suspended more than half a dozen measures enacted by President Obama and boosts fossil fuels.
Business groups have praised the Trump administration’s move but environmental campaigners have condemned it.
Mr Hayward said: “The US was at the leading edge of climate change awareness even though there were internal conflicts, and there was promise that, like they did in Kyoto, they could take a leading role in this move towards globally sustainable solutions.
“But this new policy seems to take the US away from being the good guys to being the bad guys.
“We are kind of caught in the middle; we can not have a big impact but we can not complain too loudly because our per capita impact is right up there with the leading offenders.”
In implementing his green strategy, President Obama argued that climate change was “real and cannot be ignored”.
However, among the initiatives now being rescinded by President Trump is the Clean Power Plan, which required states to slash carbon emissions to meet US commitments under the Paris accord.
Mr Hayward added: “Climate change has the potential to affect many segments of Bermuda life. We are not a low-lying island so we are not going to see a huge percentage of our land area submerged due to ocean rise.
“The big effects could be other changes like rainfall. We depend on rainfall for our water. If there is not enough we have to pay for more; if there is too much we lose crops.
“Climate change is not an exact science but a more acidic ocean could affect our fishing industry, while significant change in the temperature could also affect our tourism industry as well.”
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