Trump is running for 2024. That should be enough to quicken the heart and shiver the spine of many in the Western world. Yet, regardless of whether he is running his campaign from a jail cell or not, which apparently has not deterred him, a vote for Red America in 2024 spells out a climate disaster, and a catastrophe for anyone who wants to see a greener world.

At the beginning of his administration, Joe Biden announced his plans for the US to become carbon-neutral by 2050, a policy apparently supported by nearly seven-in-ten Americans. They are joined by nine out of every ten Democrats and maybe-Democrats (that is, Democratic-leaning independents). On the other hand, 53% of Republicans oppose Biden's green plans, and at the top of this pile is the twice-impeached, recently arraigned Trump.

Seven-in-ten Americans prioritise alternative energy development and carbon neutrality
Almost seven-in-ten Americans support the U.S. become carbon neutral by 2050. Source: Pew Research Center.

The former president has a catastrophic environmental record, if you can call it a record at all. In fact, rather than taking progressive action, the Trump administration repealed over 100 environmental regulations from planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions to protections for the US' wetlands. This shouldn't come as a surprise from a president whose first response to a global pandemic was to advise people to drink bleach. But the worry goes further. Trump deliberately ignored the science that was presented to him, science calling for tougher air pollution rules. The very reason the executive has scientific advisers is so policy can be informed, yet Trump seems to not have grasped this crucial element of 21st-century government.

Yet, Trump's environmental legacy has frustrated the efforts of the Biden administration to carry out life-saving environmental policies. This has been mainly because the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has suffered a haemorrhage in its staff, again, thanks to Trump's budget cuts in 2018 and his disregard for climate action. Furthermore, Trump appointed a renowned sceptic of climate science and environmental policy to lead the Agency in 2016, as you do when you think the whole thing is a hoax.

This shouldn't just be disturbing for climate activists and those blocking roads. It should be on the mind of anyone who doesn't want their life to be eclipsed by a burning inferno - for that is our fate if we vote for Red America. Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions rose astronomically in 2022, due, in no small part, to the US' continued financing of projects which seem to defy international discourse around 'net zero' and charting a path to a greener world. This is the country that was responsible for 11% of GHG emissions, seconded only by the emerging China and India as they find their footing on the destructive industrial stage. So much for a greener world.

But don't get me wrong. I am a Liberal through and through, and part of my liberalism is the belief that the government should take a step back when it either encroaches on our freedoms, or when things can be done more efficiently/effectively without its involvement. But climate change and the threat to our world is another matter. The threats that humanity faces today - frequent and intense natural disasters which hurt crop and freshwater supplies, changes to plant and animal behaviour that can disrupt entire ecosystems, flooding and erosion due to rising sea levels and ocean pollution as a result of the unfettered oil industry - can only be challenged by gargantuan international efforts and, for that, we need consciousness. A consciousness that business needs to be conducted, action needs to be taken and bipartisan, cooperative measures need to be enacted. The Republican Party has not yet woken up to this reality.

The only one who has - unfortunately that is - is Florida Governor and White House hopeful, Ron DeSantis. I say unfortunately because whilst he has channelled billions of dollars into helping Florida reduce its carbon footprint, and potentially mitigate some of the effects of climate change, Ron is unlikely to admit the green benefits of some of his policies. As if an embarrassing secret that he is keen to hide from the rest of the Republican Party, out of sheer fear of being lambasted as woke, god forbid, DeSantis is unlikely to come all Greta Thunberg as he gears up to take on Trump for the Republican nomination. Instead, he is focusing on what Republicans generally tend to do best: suppressing the right to vote, quashing attempts to make workplaces and schools more diverse places, and working with his Republican-dominated state legislature to restrict womens' right to choose.

So, we have Trump - who really needs no explanation as to why he is a big NO, and a climate activist yet to come out of the closet; who else? Well, whilst we are still in the fuzzy stage of what is to become the 2024 presidential election, Nikki Haley, once the youngest governor in the US at the age of 39 for South Carolina, is also running for the GOP nomination. The only redeeming feature of the young trailblazer besides her youth is that she is seeking a rather hopeful goal of a 'national consensus' on abortion - which is about as ambitious as one can get in politics, I mean come on, really? But despite her ambitions for consensus-building on one of the most divisive issues in American social policy, I am afraid two great looming shadows are cast over Haley's run. The first is that she is unequivocally pro-life, which in other words essentially means anti-choice (IMO). The second? Her mixed environmental record.

While this is better than having no record at all, Haley hasn't yet made her mind up on climate change. Like DeSantis, she accepts the central tenets of climate science, however, her time as governor of South Carolina was marked by cutting regulations - much like her former boss Donald Trump, who appointed her U.N. Ambassador in 2017.

The three major contenders for the Republican presidential nomination: Donald Trump (left), Ron DeSantis (centre), and Nikki Haley (right)
An unbeliever, a closeted activist, and an undecided. These are the environmental policy platforms presented by the three leading candidates vying for the Republican presidential nomination.

An unbeliever, a closeted activist, and an undecided. That's the environmental policy platforms of the three major contenders for the Republican presidential nomination. In the UK, we benefit from a multiparty system and are very fortunate to have greater voter choice than our friends across the Atlantic. We must be grateful that we even have a party labelled 'Green', never mind how small or incoherent its platform may be. But to our Yankee friends who aren't afforded such luxury, I offer one small piece of advice.

Don't vote Red if you want to see Green.

Archie Rankin
Archie Rankin

A young, pen-wielding Liberal with intellectual curiosities in all things politics, with huge appetites for history, philosophy and economics. Committed to making a positive difference for young people in my role as Associate Editor & Innovation Lead, constantly seeking out new ideas and approaches to drive innovation and progress.

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