Environmental protection and pollution control are one of the important issues that deeply tear up the United States. On his first day in office, U.S. President Biden signed a number of executive orders to overthrow many policies of his predecessor Trump, including rejoining the Paris Agreement to curb global warming and suspending the construction of the “Agy Stone XL” oil pipeline between the United States and Canada.
In addition, in addressing climate change, the Biden administration has begun to attract EU countries and exert diplomatic pressure on some countries, including China. In fact, unlike the European Union, which is absolutely “politically correct” on climate and environmental protection, different regions and interest groups in the United States are very different. The opposing camps formed by the Democratic and Republican parties are intertwined and trapped in the cycle of “you sign and I withdraw”.
During Trump’s term, nearly 100 environmental protection policies have been adopted.
The practice of “backing up”. Speaking of this chaos in the United States, Glenn Peters, director of the research department of the International Center for Climate and Environment Research, an internationally renowned think tank, told the Global Times that climate change is a common challenge facing all mankind and time should not be wasted in mutual accusations.
The two parties are trapped in the cycle of “you sign me and quit”
“Global warming is a partisan issue in the U.S. Congress, leading to a split between Republicans and Democrats,” said Vicky Arroyo, executive director of the Georgetown University Climate Center.
A poll by USA Today last year showed that 86% of Democrats want to reduce the global impact of climate change, compared with 55% of Republicans; 80% of Democrats support using government funds to help local response to climate change, compared with 50% of Republicans who say support it; 70% of Democrats support “help developing countries cope with global warming with the money of American taxpayers”, compared with only 36% of Republicans.
Some analysts believe that compared with Republican skepticism on climate change, Democrats tend to accept climate change scientific research, support clean energy-driven economic growth, and also want to maintain the image of “global environmental justice”.
The Globe-Times-based U.S. correspondent has participated in numerous seminars in recent years related to climate change and environmental protection.” At an event of the New American Security Center, a think tank with great links to the Democratic Biden core team, reporters saw participants worried about global warming and talked about fossil fuels angrily.
At the activities of think tanks close to the Republican Party, such as the American Heritage Foundation, participants believed that “climate change is a political lie” and that the United States cannot stop energy industries such as oil and coal because of environmental protection.
These attendees think the same as Trump. When California wildfires raged in September 2020, Trump denied the impact of climate change on wildfires and said that wildfires were a problem caused by “forest management”. At that time, Crawford, director of the California Natural Resources Agency, urged Trump to believe in science and recognize climate change and its impact on forest ecological security.
But Trump responded: “It will get cooler. You wait and see. I don’t think science knows the answer.” In response to such remarks, Oklahoma State University professor emeritus Riley Dunlap said: “Trump calls climate change a hoax, and you will get similar information from many Republican congressmen.
Most importantly, this is the message you get from conservative media.” Some Trump-pro-Trump Republicans and media outlets also claim that climate change is just a “trap” Democrats dig to expand federal regulatory power, says Robert Lorens, an energy policy expert at Colorado State University. In addition, they also believe that scientists who advocate climate change are suspected of inciting public panic in order to raise more research funds.
The U.S. media recalled that when the United States began to legislate environmental legislation to combat pollution in the 1970s, the differences between the two parties were not obvious.
In 1970, Republican President Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency and signed many basic laws. The Seattle Times said that the two parties used to be in agreement on environmental protection. In 1990, Republican President Bush Sr. signed a major amendment related to the Clean Energy Act, and when he signed the United Nations Framework Treaty on Climate Change in 1992, it was successfully considered by Congress.
But since then, with the infiltration of interest groups and the intensification of party struggles, environmental issues have also become a focus of dividing the United States, and even the “decisive point” of the election.
Why did the Republican Party turn to anti-environmentalism in the mid-to-late 1990s? The Seattle Post gave the answer that “politics blame money” and the continuous flow of polluter funds has fueled the anti-environmental movement at all levels.
In the case of coal mining, according to the Center for Responsive Politics of Nonpartisan Institutions in the United States, in the early 1990s, the proportion of the industry began to support the Republican Party higher than that of the Democratic Party.
“If it’s necessary to determine which country is more responsible for global warming, it must be the United States,” Lena Dengrudanyisen, editor-in-chief of the Flemish version of China Today magazine in Belgium, told the Global Times.
According to the introduction, a new study by the Brookings Institution shows that Trump’s series of new policies related to climate and environmental protection have led to higher temperatures in the United States during his tenure, including 2019 being the highest temperature in the past decade.
“As a global superpower, the United States should face its historical and practical responsibilities and take the initiative to shoulder the heavy responsibility of combating climate change.
However, instead of doing its international responsibilities, the United States regards climate policy as a political tool for partisan mutual settlement.” Dengrudan Ethan said that the Clinton administration signed the Kyoto Protocol in 1998, and the George W. Bush administration officially withdrew from the Kyoto Protocol in 2001; the Obama administration signed the Paris Agreement, and the Trump administration withdrew from the agreement. Now the Biden administration has decided to rejoin the agreement.
She said helplessly: “Whether you join or withdraw, as long as you can be elected president, as for other serious consequences and negative comments, it is not important.”
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Differences between the two parties in the United States on climate and environmental protection issues often lead to major energy infrastructure projects.
After Biden suspended the construction of the “Agy Stone XL” oil pipeline between the United States and Canada on his first day of office, opponents protested on social media, saying that the move would cause 11,000 workers to lose jobs and lose wages of more than $2 billion.
Trump’s son, Trump Jr., accused that Biden’s executive order would force oil companies to spend more money to transport oil on the railway invested by billionaire Buffett, who is the Democratic election funder. “This is not a change in environmental policy, but a reward for the Democratic funders”.
The “Arch Stone XL” oil pipeline project is about 2,700 kilometers long, which has been strongly opposed by environmental groups and agricultural and animal husbandry organizations in the United States due to a serious leak during construction. On November 6, 2011, 12,000 environmental volunteers went to the White House to protest.
On February 24, 2015, then President Obama vetoed the bill passed by the United States Congress to approve the construction of the “Agestone XL” oil pipeline in the United States and Canada. In January 2017, Trump signed an executive order to restart the project just three days after he joined the White House.
According to Reuters, the Trump administration repealed environmental protection regulations to maximize the development of fossil fuels. The common saying that Trump decided to withdraw from the Paris Agreement is that “the United States will lose 2.7 million jobs by 2025”.
Felidman, deputy director of the Institute of Strategic Research and Forecasting of the Russian People’s Friendship University, believes that this cannot be separated from lobbying by American industry. As the owner of a large enterprise.
U.S. oil and automakers want to withdraw from the agreement because it limits industrial growth in the United States, and Trump is the spokesman of the interests of these large enterprises. Bajuk, an expert at the American and Canadian Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said that Trump, like other Republicans, mainly represents the interests of large American enterprises. Republicans are a big business party.
According to the BBC, Trump promised to turn the United States into an energy superpower, and his tenure tried to eliminate a series of anti-pollution regulations, which could reduce the production costs of natural gas, oil and coal. He criticized former President Obama’s environmental cleanup plan as a war against the U.S. energy industry.
The New York Times has analyzed that Democrat Obama once “bet” on environmental issues. When he was elected president in 2008 and re-elected in 2012, he was supported by Latinos, young people and unmarried women, and these groups supported candidates who supported climate change policies.
However, in the November 2014 midterm elections in the United States, the Republican Party became the Senate majority again after many years, in which the Republican Party played a key role in the fierce attack on Obama’s environmental regulations.
At that time, a senior Republican strategist analyzed that once the environmental regulation problem is amplified, it will become a “weak weakness” of the Democratic Party, providing the Republican Party with an opportunity to launch an attack, because “overmanagement obviously kills employment” and it is predicted that the Democrats will lose some votes due to environmental protection in the 2016 election.
The same is true of the 2020 general election. The Russian News Agency reported on January 26 that the wave of acquisitions and bankruptcy of American shale oil companies in the past year has been landmark, and Biden’s victory will expose the industry to “real collapse and doom”. Democrats believe that the hydraulic fracturing method has caused serious environmental pollution.
Democratic presidential candidates such as Warren and Sanders explicitly advocate the ban of fracturing, while Biden has adopted a relatively moderate attitude and plans to significantly reduce the funding of shale oil companies, “because shale oil drilling is not suitable for the green economy route”.
Nevertheless, polls before last year’s U.S. election showed that many voters opposed Biden in Texas, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma and other states with more traditional energy sources to oppose Biden because of the Democratic stance on this issue.
The president of an energy company complained last April: “Think about how destructive it will affect our economy. Imagine what it feels like to be back into energy dependence.”
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In addition to suspending the U.S.-Canada oil pipeline project, Biden also suspended the oil and gas development leases recently opened by the Trump administration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Soon, Republican Alaska Governor Dunleavy attacked Biden’s decision.
Governments and climate change advocates welcome the return of the U.S. government to climate change cooperation, but international public opinion has expressed some doubts about whether it can overcome domestic political turmoil.
Reuters said that given political differences within the United States, opposition from fossil fuel companies and concerns about a change in U.S. policy, the road back to the Paris climate agreement is not smooth.
It remains to be seen whether Biden will achieve his climate agenda — the most radical one he has put forward — and it’s not easy to bring a polarized nation together around a radical climate agenda, according to Nature.
After all, the Trump administration has adopted nearly 100 “back-up” environmental policy in the past four years to relax various regulations on air, water quality to wildlife, some of which endanger the environmental protection efforts that have been implemented for decades.
Goffman, the former assistant director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said: “The obvious effect of these new regulations is to weaken pollution standards, that is, to reduce environmental protection. As they take effect, the public will suffer more pollution, environmental damage and greenhouse gas emissions. But these regulations have other functions. What the government really wants to do is to break the law.
Singapore’s Lianhe Zaobao editorial on January 25 said that Republican senators are worried that the Biden administration set unrealistic goals for the United States and believe that re-joining the Paris Agreement will lead to higher energy costs, which is also one of the reasons why Biden’s policy agenda may be boycotted.
“The EU has been hostile to the withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Agreement.” Blohin, an expert at the Security Research Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences, believes that Biden’s fulfillment of his return promise will be welcomed by the European Union. On January 25, the Netherlands hosted the first Climate Adaptation Summit.
During the summit, the special representative of the President of the United States, Kerry, reiterated that the United States will implement the Paris Agreement and fulfill its emission reduction commitments, saying that “we are proud to be back”.
Germany’s Der Spiegel published an in-depth report on January 26 under the title of “How Biden made the United States a climate champion”: “How realistic is this transformation in a country where prosperity depends on the oil and gas industry? Biden has set up an ambitious climate plan to allow the United States to undergo radical green change in the next few years, but it is not easy to complete the change in a country like the United States with too many ‘passionate sports car drivers’ and ‘fracking shale gas fans’.” The article said that the average household in the United States has two cars, and the per capita carbon dioxide emissions in the United States are almost twice that of Germans and nine times that of Indians.
In 2019 alone, more than 180 tankers loaded with U.S. liquefied gas stopped at European ports. University of California political scientist David Victor suspects that most of Biden’s climate policies may be implemented in an under-satisfactory manner in the administration, “at least, many businesses in the U.S. are not prepared for it.”
“Biden’s climate policy will be welcomed by the international community, but will be opposed by half of the people at home. They are supporters of the Republican Party.
Dennis Wellster, a climate scholar in Berlin, Germany, told the Global Times that he had heard comments from American friends in recent days, and even some scholars opposed Biden’s climate plan, which he thought was “utopian”. Opponents believe that 80% of the energy needs of American households are currently met through traditional fuels.
If the transition is too fast, the total loss of a family of four in 15 years will be 20,000 US dollars. More importantly, Americans must also change their careless consumption habits, which will make Americans feel less happy. Dennis said that the United States may become more divided by climate issues.
“The Biden administration wants to turn the U.S. from a bad boy dealing with climate issues into a good example.” Regarding the performance of the new U.S. government on environmental protection issues, the Austrian Journal Vienna commented. Many international public opinion also mentioned China.
For example, the New York Times recently said: “Biden needs China’s help if he wants to become the ‘first climate president of the United States’… Both countries hope to achieve their own net zero-emission economy around the middle of this century, and both are also eager to influence international climate diplomacy.
The danger is that if the United States hesitates to rectify domestic order, And what will happen if China consolidates its market position in the field of clean energy? That way, the United States will lose the opportunity to benefit our economy and our workers from a clean energy economy.
An article in Germany’s Business Daily on January 25 said that the China-EU investment agreement clearly shows that the EU wants to follow its own path in its policy towards China. On environmental protection issues, the EU also hopes to cooperate with China, rather than join the camp against China.