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Climate Policy in the Age of Trump

A Plausible Path Forward

U.S. President Donald Trump signs an executive order that places a hiring freeze on non-military federal workers in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, January 2017.  Kevin Lamarque / REUTERS

Of the many reasons that a slim minority of voters chose to elect a bombastic reality television star to be president of the United States, climate change was surely not high on the list. Nonetheless, Donald Trump assumed the office last week openly hostile to the environmental movement. He has threatened to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, gut the Barack Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, and cut funding for climate science research. Should he follow through, two decades of work trying to translate a growing understanding of human-caused global warming into explicit treaties at the international level and emissions policies at the federal level will have reached their denouement. And that, in the long run, might be a good thing for the climate.

THE STATUS QUO’S SMALL FOOTPRINT

Since international efforts to limit carbon emissions began in earnest almost 30 years ago, there has been little evidence that either international agreements or national commitments

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