Trump presidency has potential to disrupt global energy, climate plans

Former United States President, Donald Trump during a campaign on June 9, 2024.

Photo credit: Reuters

With US presidential electioneering gaining momentum and with the two candidates, President Biden and former President Trump having held the top office, it is quite predictable what will happen in areas of energy and climate when either of the two wins.

The differences in environmental policies and actions can be quite startling, and with far reaching global impacts.

Donald Trump is an openly acknowledged “climate denier” who during his last tenure withdrew US participation in the 2015 Paris Climate Accord which his predecessor, President Obama, had strongly supported.

And when President Biden came to office in 2021, he returned the US to the Accord and appointed a high-level official John Kelly to be his climate envoy. This on/off shift every four years is what makes the world sceptical about US commitment to global policies.

John Kelly effectively participated in the 2021 Glasgow COP26 which successfully unified the world on climate agenda, while preparing the stage for Biden’s US climate agenda. But this was interrupted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine in early 2022 when most energy and climate policies were modified to address ensuing global energy insecurity. Biden has since implemented Inflation Reduction Act which generally addresses carbon reduction and energy transition.

Should Donald Trump return to the White House, an eventuality that is looking more likely going by consistent polls in his favour, he will invariably side with the popular wishes of energy businesses and investors, including “big oil” and thermal power generators.

Trump will be inclined to reverse any policy or regulation that obstructs these businesses. He would also likely go slow on support for technologies that directly threaten fossil fuels, and this includes electric vehicles.

Going by observations from his last presidency, Trump has a distinct distaste for global cooperative efforts, especially UN agencies and other organisations engaged in global efforts, preferring instead self-serving relations with like-minded individual leaders. This makes synchronised global climate actions difficult to implement if the largest world economy is not engaged. With Trump, the US would be less interested in funding global climate programmes, and this would not augur well for Africa and Kenya.

Whichever president the Americans select on November 5th, they should be aware that choices have consequences, not only for the US but the entire world. At risk are geopolitics, world peace, and definitely the climate agenda. As for Kenya, we should be ready to diplomatically navigate through whichever US presidency is voted in.

George Wachira, petroleum consultant, [email protected]

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