Prospect of second Trump presidency sparks fears of climate dystopia

Washington DC - Allies and advisors of Donald Trump said his administration would considerably ramp up attacks on climate protections should he win a second term in the White House.

A second Donald Trump presidency is alarming climate advocates and scientists.
A second Donald Trump presidency is alarming climate advocates and scientists.  © CHRISTIAN MONTERROSA / AFP

"Trump will undo everything Biden has done, he will move more quickly and go further than he did before," Myron Ebell, who helmed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) transition team for Trump’s first term as president, told The Guardian. "He will act much more expeditiously to impose his agenda."

These actions include accelerating fossil fuel production and continuing to lease public lands and waters for drilling, risking severe and lasting damage in a precarious moment for people and planet.

Dismantling Biden's signature Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) would be the icing on Trump's cake. The sweeping legislation, passed on party lines and signed into law in August 2022, called for nearly $370 billion in funding for clean energy projects and electric vehicles.

Judge in Trump's hush money trial scolded over political donations
Donald Trump Judge in Trump's hush money trial scolded over political donations

While repealing the IRA outright may prove difficult, there are other steps a hypothetical second Trump administration could take, including doing away with government consideration of carbon emission damages, curbing the power of the EPA to enforce pollution rules, and once again withdrawing the US from the Paris climate accord.

Such actions align with recent Trump campaign rally statements, in which he has said the US should do away with "crooked Joe Biden’s insane electric vehicle mandate" and instead "drill, baby, drill."

US right-wingers "systematically prepare to take power"

President Joe Biden has faced criticism for his spotty record on climate action.
President Joe Biden has faced criticism for his spotty record on climate action.  © SAUL LOEB / AFP

Alarm bells are also sounding over a nearly 1,000-page Project 2025 Presidential Transition Project, issued by the notorious rightwing Heritage Foundation think tank, which takes an axe to US climate and environmental policy.

"We are writing a battle plan, and we are marshaling our forces," Project 2025 director Paul Dans told E&E News in July. "Never before has the whole conservative movement banded together to systematically prepare to take power day one and deconstruct the administrative state."

Though the thought of a second Trump presidency is daunting by all measure, many climate activists and experts are by no means enamored with the Biden administration either.

Biden lights up marijuana reclassification plans with new proposal
Joe Biden Biden lights up marijuana reclassification plans with new proposal

The current president has shepherded the passage of the IRA, launched a Climate Corps for US youth, and paused approvals on new LNG facilities. At the same time, he has sparked outrage over decisions to green light the Willow Project in Alaska, currently facing a legal challenge, in additional to other damaging fossil fuel projects.

Some critics of the current president have said he is not doing nearly enough to tackle the urgent climate emergency, with the US one of the world's leading greenhouse gas emitters.

Cover photo: CHRISTIAN MONTERROSA / AFP

More on Donald Trump: