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US election 2020: What the results will mean for climate change

Who occupies the White House for the next four years could play a critical role in the fight against dangerous climate change, experts say. Matt McGrath weighs the likely environmental consequences of the US election.

Scientists studying climate change say that the re-election of Donald Trump could make it “impossible” to keep global temperatures in check.

They’re worried another four years of Trump would “lock in” the use of fossil fuels for decades to come – securing and enhancing the infrastructure for oil and gas production rather than phasing them out as environmentalists want.

Joe Biden’s climate plan, the scientists argue, would give the world a fighting chance.

In addition to withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement – the international pact designed to avoid dangerous warming of the Earth – President Trump’s team has worked hard to remove what they see as obstacles to efficient energy production.

Over the past three years, researchers at Columbia University in New York have tracked more than 160 significant rollbacks of environmental regulations. These cover everything from car fuel standards, to methane emissions, to light bulbs.

This bonfire of red tape has occurred at the same time that the US is reeling from several years’ worth of severe wildfires in western states. Many scientists have linked these fires to climate change.

So where are we after four years of Donald Trump – and where are things likely to go after the election on 3 November?

Trump’s position on climate
“Trump believes that regulations are all cost and no benefit,” says Prof Michael Gerrard from Columbia University in New York.

“He denies that there really is such a thing as anthropogenic climate change, or at least that it is bad. He believes that if you cut back on regulations of all kinds, not just environmental, but also occupational and labour and everything else, it’ll create more jobs.”

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