US President Donald Trump’s 28 March Executive Order formalises his pre-election commitments to unwind science based climate action in the United States, but this will not stop the clean energy transition now underway globally.
President Trump’s Executive Order, if codified as a commitment under the Paris Agreement, would downgrade the US CAT rating to “insufficient”—a level of action that, if followed by all other countries, would warm the world by around 4°C, leading to a warming not seen on the planet for 55 million years. This would relegate the United States to the bottom of the global climate action league.
The Executive Order sets the US on a path to miss its Paris Agreement commitment (NDC) for 2025 by a large margin. Under President Trump, emissions in 2025 and 2030 are expected to be roughly similar to today, instead of the 13% decrease from 2014 levels needed to meet its commitment in 2025.
The Executive Order will not easily reverse the trends that have driven down US emissions in recent years. Although the order begins the process of “suspending, revising, and rescinding” currently implemented policies, these steps are likely to be subject to legal disputes over the coming years and will therefore have a delayed impact on emissions. In addition, unstoppable market pressures (e.g. the low cost of renewables) and actions at state and local levels (e.g. a separate car fuel efficiency standard in California) will continue to drive developments that decrease greenhouse gas emissions.
But it is almost certain that, as a consequence of the order, the USA will miss its NDC target for 2025 because it will prevent the implementation of new policies previously planned by the Obama administration.