American efforts to fight climate change will come to a screeching halt on 28 March when President Donald Trump signs an executive order that will roll back regulations on carbon emissions and the industries that cause them.
Environmentalists are ready for a fight. "If Trump thinks he can kill our climate progress without a fight, he's wrong," said the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). "We'll fight this every step of the way."
Known as the Energy Independence order, Trump's directive will roll back carbon emissions standards for new power plants created under the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan. It will pull data collection about how carbon emissions impact the environment, reverse standards on the release of methane gas during oil and gas production, and bulldoze over a rule that prevented coal mines on public land.
Trump will sign the order during a visit to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the afternoon of the 28 March.
Last week, the president gave the go ahead for construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. In 2015, President Barack Obama rejected approving the pipeline weeks ahead of the Paris climate conference. At the conference, the US committed to reduce its carbon emissions by up to 28% by 2025.
Coal and gas-fired plants are among the largest sources of carbon emissions on Earth, and fossil fuel combustion makes up about 90% of global emissions. If these emissions aren't curbed, unpredictable weather events will increase along with a rise in global temperatures by more than 2 degrees, altering the Earth's ecosystem on which billions of humans rely.
Former Vice President Al Gore said on 23 March, that he is still hopeful that Trump won't pull out of the Paris agreement. Gore said the president's policies don't hold out hope that the US will meet its targets.
"This is an all-out assault on the protections we need to avert climate catastrophe," said the NDRC's president Rhea Suh, on 27 March, after learning of the order. "It's a senseless betrayal of our national interests. And it's a short-sighted attempt to undermine American clean energy leadership." Suh said the move could potentially jeopardise millions of clean energy jobs.
The group isn't the only one that say it will fight Trump's policies. "The Supreme Court ruled that EPA has the obligation to regulate greenhouse gasses under the Clean Air Act," said a statement by the environmental group Friends of the Earth, adding the group "will join with people across the country to pressure the EPA to follow the laws protecting our climate and public health."
In a budget proposal floated by the president, on 16 March, Trump proposed cutting 50 programmes at the EPA and 3,200 civil service positions. White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said, at the time, that the Trump administration considers fighting climate change "to be a waste of" taxpayer money.
Trump has denied the existence of climate change for years and during his election campaign he called climate change a "hoax" perpetrated by the Chinese to hurt American industry and productivity.
China, on the other hand, in January vowed to pour $361bn in the renewable energy sector by 2020 in hopes of creating 13 million jobs. Despite Trump's claims China says it remains committed to battling climate change and will shifting away from coal power to renewable energy.
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