While the shockwaves from Tuesday’s election still reverberate here’s a summary of how a Trump presidency will affect the environment, agriculture, the food system and trade.
Don’t hold your breath. Mr Trump is the man who dismissed climate change as a hoax created by China. He has vowed to cancel the Paris Agreement, although quite what that means, is not entirely clear.
The election campaign also saw Trump promise to rip up a load more environmental regulations, like the Clean Power Plan and he’s a big supporter of extracting as much oil as possible from the tar sands.
So, the fate of the solar panels on the roof of the White House, re-instated by the Obamas in 2013 after a 25-year hiatus, must be in doubt.
It’s not just in Washington where the temperature is rising. Scientists reported this week that the five years hottest years on record have all been since 2011. This global warming lark – eh?
Craig Bennett, Chief Executive of Friends of the Earth, responded to Trump’s election saying: The election of President Trump is clearly a major threat to our climate and future well-being of generations to come… It is now more important than ever for individuals, communities, cities, regions and companies to lead the way in building a cleaner, safer future or us all.”
And it’s kind of ironic that the while the US was voting for Trump, leaders were gathering in Morocco for the COP22 climate conference, still somewhat basking in the glory of having reached an historic agreement in Paris last year. There was concern among delegates that a Trump regime will renege on the remaining $2.5 billion it’s committed to the international Green Climate Fund
They’re calling it the bonfire of the trade deals. Months of banging the drum for American jobs for Americans and preaching protectionism, it will come as absolutely no surprise if President Trump kills off the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (better known as TTIP). Experts are predicting that TTIP, which critics describe as an assault on Europeans by transnational corporations, will be indefinitely stalled, if not scrapped. Trump has indicated that a free trade deal with the UK is high on his agenda. What that will look likely is not clear. TTIP threatened to dilute EU food standards and regulations to US levels – across a range of things like GM, antibiotics, growth hormones and pesticides. A race to the bottom would not be a good place to start for Teresa May,
Food and Agriculture
The President Elect is a man of simple tastes when it comes to food. He’s said to be a lover of fried chicken, burgers and fries – of course. In an interview earlier this year he said fast food was ‘cleaner’ and that you knew where the food was coming from…So what’ll happen to the healthy eating initiatives of Michelle Obama and on a smaller scale, the White House veg patch she planted? And as for the regulation of food safety and supply, the Trump camp outlined plans for getting rid of the Environmental Protection Agency – a sure fire way to increase the use of pesticides for starters.
In terms of Trump’s actual food policies, they would appear thin on the ground. He’s not disclosed for instance whether he favours GM or not. They say you can tell a lot about a man from the people he surrounds himself with and among those tipped to become agriculture secretary, is Bruce Rastetter, founder of Heartland Pork which produces pork on an industrial scale, selling more than a million pigs a year
Light at the end of the tunnel…
Trump Digs Coal, was one of the popular campaign slogans. We’ve stopped digging coal altogether in the UK and as Trump parked his car on the Whitehouse lawn on Wednesday morning, so the UK government announced the phasing out of coal-fired power stations as well a £730m investment in green technology. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy says this will result in enough renewable electricity to power 1m homes and reduce carbon emissions by 2.5m tonnes from 2021. It may not be enough to balance out what’s to come across the pond, but it’s a start and a good example.