America

Donald Trump’s election as the next U.S. president was a [unexpected][climatic][shocking] ending to a turbulent campaign that tapped into the anxiety felt by many American voters over globalisation, immigration, stagnating incomes and shrinking economic opportunities. The election revealed a deeply divided electorate: while Hillary Clinton received the most votes nationally, overwhelmingly won the youth, women and people of colour, Donald Trump won in enough states to prevail in the electoral college, thereby securing the presidency.

Understandably, delegates and reporters have questions about the implications of a Trump administration for domestic emissions reductions. ECO is confident that the rapidly expanding deployment of clean energy solutions by states, cities, and businesses across the country is enough to continue the drive to decarbonise the US energy economy, regardless of the actions that a President Trump takes—or doesn’t take. But a cut back on federal policy leadership, will no doubt impair the US meeting its 2025 emissions commitments.

President-elect Trump emphasised his campaign promise to create millions of new jobs for American workers. The most effective way to do this is by embracing the renewable energy revolution. While there are divisions between Democrats and Republicans on climate policy, there has been bipartisan support for investments in clean energy as well as in climate resilience. Trump’s infrastructure investment initiatives could provide a vehicle to address both of these needs.

ECO is also concerned about prospects for continued US finance and technology support for developing country mitigation and adaptation actions under a Trump administration. But what gives ECO hope is the coalition of US development, faith, environmental, and business groups has been actively engaging with both Democrats Republicans in Congress, educating them on how this assistance is not charity or a hand-out, but rather a smart investment with economic, environmental, and security benefits to Americans. This coalition will now work to make sure that Trump and his team understand this reality.

It’s clear that countries will continue to move ahead with the commitments they made under the Paris Agreement no matter what Trump does, as these commitments are in their own national interest. An increasing number of governments understand that decisive climate action helps reduce the impacts of climate change on their people and brings many public health and economic co-benefits.

But if President Trump decides not to honour America’s commitments under the Paris Agreement, he will quickly learn that this negatively impacts his ability to get support from other countries’ leaders on trade, terrorism, and other issues important to him. Climate change has become a geopolitical issue of the top order, and any country perceived as not doing its fair share to confront the climate threat will suffer consequences for its standing in the world.  Tuesday’s US elections did nothing to change these fundamental realities.

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