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Trump’s Climate Challenge: Between Energy Superpower And Green Shackles

Association for Geoconservation, Hong Kong

Presentation by Dr Benny Peiser, Climate Change Forum — Hong Kong, 27 May 2017

Association for Geoconservation, Duke of Windsor Social Service Building, Wanchai, Hong Kong Island 2pm 

During his election campaign, Donald Trump pledged to roll back President Obama’s climate and energy policies. He promised to withdraw the US from the Paris climate agreement and stop all US payments to UN global warming programmes. Trump declared that he would develop America’s mammoth oil, gas and coal reserves to the full and make global energy dominance the strategic, economic and foreign policy goal of the United States. The US is sitting on hundreds of years of oil, gas and coal which has the potential to turn North America into the 21st century’s energy superpower. The shale revolution is having huge economic and geopolitical implications while America’s major competitors are trying to shackle the US into a low-carbon future that would essentially rob it of its assets. The Paris agreement vows to cap global warming to “well below” two degrees Celsius (compared to late 19th-century levels) which, campaigners claim, would require the US to massively cut CO2 emissions from conventional energy production. It would also mean most of America’s gas, oil and coal reserves would have to stay in the ground, thus relinquishing hundreds of trillions in economic gains while the US would be forced to surrender the prospect of becoming the world’s leading energy superpower. Yet despite Trump’s unequivocal pledge, his administration is deeply divided on whether to fulfil his promise to withdraw from the Paris agreement and to pursue his America First Energy plan. In this talk, I will discuss the political and economic challenges the US administration faces regarding the Paris climate agreement. I will also address the international and geopolitical implications of Trump’s climate policy decisions.