According to NASA scientists, 2016 will very likely be the warmest year on record, placing even more urgency on implementation of the 2015 Paris climate agreement signed by more than 190 countries. Those most impacted by climate change continue to be communities with the least resources to mitigate the damage and adapt to permanent changes, such as rising sea levels, extreme weather and drought.
In December the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced it would not grant permits to complete the Dakota Access Pipeline but will instead conduct a formal review of the project’s environmental impacts. While an immediate victory for opponents of the pipeline, including the Standing Rock Sioux tribe who objected to the pipeline running through sacred lands and risking contamination of the Missouri River, it is unclear whether a Trump administration can reverse this decision.
President-elect Trump has said that clean air and clean water will be priorities for his administration, though he has also pledged to expand oil, coal and natural gas extraction, all of which can contaminate air and water if not properly regulated–regulations Trump has often labeled overly burdensome.
A Trump administration will almost certainly dismantle the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan for cutting carbon emissions with individual state goals and strategies–though many states, even those that sued to stop the CPP, are already on track to meet emissions targets. During his campaign, Trump vowed to pull the U.S. out of the Paris agreement but has since indicated an openness to remain in the global treaty.
It will be a struggle to preserve funding for international programs such as the Green Climate Fund which help vulnerable communities impacted by climate change. Construction of additional fencing and walls on the U.S.-Mexico border could impact public lands, endangered species, and Native American communities in the border region. —Tammy Alexander