On the 28th March 2017 President Trump signed an Executive Order:

Promoting energy independence and economic growth’.

While its title sounds encouraging for some of America’s workforce, there are unfortunately a few discouraging details…

Perhaps the most discouraging is the addition of over half a billion tons of planet warming gases into the atmosphere over the next decade.

At its core, the executive order instructs the Environmental Protection Agency to begin rewriting the Clean Power Plan, the cornerstone of the Obama Administration’s climate policy. With this effort, the Trump administration hopes to restore the crumbling coal industry.

From a climate perspective this is a devastating blow as coal is the most harmful fuel in terms of its warming influence on the atmosphere.

If executed in its entirety the Clean Power Plan would prevent approximately 650 million tons of carbon dioxide from reaching the atmosphere over the next 8 years. Along with other actions, including tailpipe regulations (which Trump has also moved to eliminate), the United States was steering toward meeting its target for the Paris Agreement.

The Clean Power Plan made up the largest component of proposed greenhouse gas emission reductions after 2016. Other components included tail pipe emission standards, reductions on methane emissions and more efficient appliances. (Source: New York Times; Climate Interactive)

The Clean Power Plan made up the largest component of proposed greenhouse gas emission reductions after 2016. Other components included tail pipe emission standards, reductions on methane emissions and more efficient appliances. (Source: New York Times; Climate Interactive)

The Paris Agreement, negotiated in the French capital in December 2015 was agreed to by over 190 nations. It is the first time the global community has agreed to address climate change by striving to keep the average global temperature increase below 2°C.

This can only be achieved by aggressive emission targets from all countries to reduce the influx of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.  In actual fact, current pledges need to be ratcheted up significantly to curb emissions quickly enough to remain below 2°C.

The influx of additional planet warming gas, prompted by Trump's suggested policy will aggravate climate change.  The rhetoric sends a signal to the rest of the world that the government of the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases is not on board to meet this challenge.

 

Estimated CO2 emissions by country in 2011 (Source: EPA). The United States is the second largest emitter. A change in policy by the Trump administration deals a significant blow to international action to curb emissions as fast as possible. 

So let’s meet it for them.

If the Trump Forest covers an area of approximately 100,000 square kilometers (37,000 square miles), about the size of the U.S. state of Kentucky, it will offset the additional carbon in the atmosphere if the Clean Power Plan is removed*.

To do this, we estimate that we need to plant 10 billion trees.

Then, at least, the backward steps of the Trump Administration will be negated until it sees the light and steps up to its duty of leadership, or a sane and logical government that bases its decisions on scientific advice wins the next election.

Of course, it would be a little easier to simply leave the Clean Power Plan in place…but we've got your back Don. 


*This is an estimate. Carbon sequestration is dependent on tree type and local climate among many other factors. The estimated CO2 removed from the atmosphere will be reported on the homepage as Trump Forest grows.