President Donald Trump’s proposed budget for the US calls for aggressive cuts to a diverse array of programs ranging from foreign aid to food stamps to funding for the arts.
As far as climate change goes, the proposed cuts are absolute.
The Trump administration wants to end climate action measures, stop all spending on climate change research, and abandon international climate change agreements.
“As to climate change, I think the president was fairly straightforward: we’re not spending money on that anymore,” Mick Mulvaney, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, said at a White House briefing on Thursday. “We consider that to be a waste of your money to go out and do that.”
The budget envisions ending the Clean Power Plan act, which seeks to regulate emissions from power plants, and is the lynchpin of the former Obama administration’s climate policy. It also seeks to stop progress on energy efficiency measures, which have the potential to dramatically reduce US energy consumption and reverse regulations on car emissions, which have significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
Halting research on climate change means many things.
It means NASA would have to limit satellite data collection of changes in the atmosphere, soil conditions, sea and land ice, and more.
It means the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration would have to limit how its outreach programs that help the public understand climate change.
It would mean the EPA would have to reduce on-the-ground research measuring the lived experience of climate change.
It would also mean that funding for programs that advance renewable energy technology would be terminated.
If the US exited the Paris climate agreement, the agreement could collapse globally. It is already a fragile promise— none of the commitments made under its guidance are binding — and the departure of one of the key participants would most likely discourage other members from making the structural changes expected of them.
And if the Paris climate agreement collapsed, international cooperation on climate change would become highly improbable.
The Trump budget has been heavily criticized for its proposed assaults on programs that help women, the poor, students, and the environment.
While these cuts are being framed as financially sensible, the long-term costs of cutting programs that help the most marginalized and the health of planet could be far more expensive than any near-term savings. Congress has the final say on all budgets, so let's hope these measures don't get passed into law.