Pro-Trump Platform Promotes Climate Science Denial Ads to Millions Across Europe

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Original article by Joey Grostern republished from DeSmog.

A mashup of three Epoch Times adverts posted on Meta. Credit: The Epoch Times / Meta

Campaigners have referred the Epoch Times to the UK advertising regulator for “stoking the climate culture war” on social media.

The pro-Trump Epoch Times has run hundreds of anti-climate social media adverts in Europe since the beginning of 2024 that have been seen millions of times, DeSmog can reveal. 

Epoch Times accounts in Europe have run 425 adverts on Facebook, Instagram, and X (formerly Twitter) that have attacked or undermined climate science, green energy, or climate action since the start of the year. These adverts have been run in the UK, Germany, Slovakia, and Bulgaria, appearing on social media feeds at least 2.3 million times across Facebook and Instagram, and 3.1 million times on X. 

These anti-climate ads were active for 22 days on average on Meta platforms (Facebook and Instagram), while they were displayed for 9.5 days on average on X.

Four of the adverts posted by Epoch Times on Meta have now been referred to the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA), a UK watchdog, by the campaign group Global Witness. The group is calling for the ASA to open an investigation into whether the Epoch Times breached the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) Code and, if so, to ban these adverts.

The Epoch Times claims to be the fastest growing independent news outlet in the United States. It claims to host websites across 22 languages in 35 countries, publishing online and in print. The publication has gained a substantial online following in recent years, amassing more than 10 million followers across its various Facebook accounts.

Based in New York, the Epoch Times is affiliated with the Falun Gong new religious movement in China and is staunchly anti-communist. Though the source of its income isn’t publicly declared, former employees told the New York Times that the publication was financed “by a combination of subscriptions, ads and donations from wealthy Falun Gong practitioners.”

The publication has propelled itself on Facebook by filling its feeds with viral, feel-good videos alongside its often partisan news coverage. 

According to NewsGuard, an independent company that rates the credibility of news sites, Epoch Times articles “frequently include distorted, misleading, or unsubstantiated claims.” The Epoch Times claims on its website that its reporters are “guided by the highest code of conduct and ethics”.

The Epoch Times spent at least $1.5 million on adverts in support of then Republican President Donald Trump from 2018 to 2019 – more than any group other than the Trump campaign. 

The publication was banned from advertising by Meta following these revelations, and the social media company told DeSmog that it ”continues to enforce this ban”. However, a number of Epoch Times offshoots have been allowed to promote climate science denial across Europe this year. 

Many of these adverts have explicitly questioned the contribution of carbon dioxide (CO2) to climate change. The adverts have featured statements including “Several climate scientists say CO2 is essential and higher levels are not a problem”, and “What if more CO2 is actually good for the environment?”

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world’s foremost climate science body, has stated that carbon dioxide “is responsible for most of global warming” since the late 19th century, which has increased the “severity and frequency of weather and climate extremes, like heat waves, heavy rains, and drought”.

The adverts ran for months, and reached millions of people, despite Meta’s pledge to tackle climate misinformation. Ten were removed prior to DeSmog contacting Meta, of which six were removed over a failure to include an appropriate advertising disclaimer.

“After sowing division and disinformation in the U.S., everyone in the UK should be alarmed that the Epoch Times is using the same playbook here,” said Nienke Palstra, campaign strategy lead at Global Witness. “We have already seen politicians trying to stoke a climate culture war and the Epoch Times is spending big to tap into this sentiment. We cannot allow the future of our planet to be put at threat for the political gain of extremists and populists.”

A spokesperson for the Epoch Times told Global Witness that scientists have always differed in their opinion on climate change and that “To ban different opinions does not help a civilised open society and erodes freedom of speech.”

Climate Denial Content

The bulk of the anti-climate adverts seen by DeSmog were posted by Epoch Times London, a Facebook page created in October 2023 that has fewer than 600 followers. 

Many of the adverts posted by Epoch Times London questioned climate science, for example claiming that “the greenhouse effect is real but irrelevant”, and that “new studies undercut the ‘scientifically empty’ global warming narrative.”

One advert entitled “Scientists Expose Major Problems With Climate Change Data” was linked to an Epoch Times article that claimed climate change can be best explained by “natural variation”. The article also said that attempts to create a scientific consensus around human-caused climate change are the product of “deliberate fraud” according to “some experts.”

The same article quoted Willie Soon, a scientist who has cast doubt on climate science and who has openly admitted accepting research funding from fossil fuel interests.

A number of the Epoch Times London adverts suggested that the consensus on climate change is based on a wilful misinterpretation of evidence by the scientific community, asking questions such as “Climate change or data corruption? Experts question mainstream narrative.”

DeSmog’s analysis found that Epoch Times London ran at least 392 unique adverts on Meta since the start of the year that attacked or attempted to undermine climate science, green energy, or climate action.

Of those adverts, 146 were still active prior to DeSmog contacting Meta. According to an analysis of Meta’s ad archive, Epoch Times London has spent between £12,600 and £51,715 on its anti-climate advertising since the start of the year, with those adverts having been seen between 1.9 million and 2.5 million times. Meta has now blocked Epoch Times London’s ability to post adverts.

According to Companies House, Epoch Times London was incorporated in 2014. The publication drew criticism in the UK in 2020 for posting free editions of its paper to Brighton and Hove residents, the front page of which included claims that the Chinese Communist Party had deliberately covered up evidence of COVID-19’s existence. 

Following complaints from constituents, Lloyd Russell-Moyle, the Labour MP for Kemptown in Brighton, publicly criticised the Epoch Times in the House of Commons and called on Royal Mail to stop posting its print edition.

Epoch’s European Operations

Elsewhere in Europe, DeSmog has seen evidence of anti-climate advertising from Epoch Times-affiliated accounts. 

The most prolific source of these adverts has been the German Epoch Times account on X, which has run 61 anti-climate adverts since the beginning of the year, reaching at least 1.5 million people and appearing 3.2 million times on X feeds across the German-speaking world. 

Of the adverts that made a funding declaration, all stated that they were paid for Epoch Times Europe Gmbh, a company that has existed in Germany since at least 2009 according to the country’s company register. 

A number of these adverts directly questioned the role of CO2 on climate change, saying that “CO2, especially anthropogenic emissions, hardly play a role”, “Climate change: CO2 not to blame”, “Climate change is too complex to blame on CO2”, and “CO2 is the most expensive fraud in history.”

While there were fewer ads run on Meta in Germany than in the UK, they still generated at least 100,000 impressions, representing an ad spend of between €1,500 and €3,777. 

An account run by German Epoch Times journalist Erik Rusch has also run at least 24 anti-climate adverts since its creation in January – though the adverts state that they were paid for by Rusch. 

Some of the adverts run by Epoch Times Germany suggested that wind turbines produce nefarious health effects, including claims such as, “Don’t ignore the health effects: Doctor warns against wind turbines”, and “Wind energy under scrutiny: Dr Bellut-Staeck on the low-frequency risks to humans and animals.”

One of the German adverts quoted Fritz Vahrenholt, who is a scientific advisor to the UK’s leading climate science denial group, the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF).

Other adverts promoted by the German Epoch Times, as well as Epoch Times London, quoted fellow GWPF advisor Richard Lindzen. In one of these adverts, Lindzen was quoted as saying: “If we could get rid of 60 percent of CO2, we would all be dead.” 

Germany Epoch Times adverts also linked back to articles on its website, directing readers to the claim by climate science denier John F. Clauser that the perceived climate threat is a “dangerous corruption of science.” 

Another advert quoted Lindzen as asking, “Is climate change the existential threat we’ve been led to believe?” and linked to an Epoch Times interview with Lindzen on its YouTube series “American Thought Leaders”. 

Former UK Prime Minister Liz Truss was recently interviewed on this series, while a parallel series, “British Thought Leaders”, has interviewed a number of climate science deniers. Since the beginning of March, this series has featured Martin DurkinRupert Darwall, and GWPF advisor Gwythian Prins. These interviews were headlined: “The Science Simply Does Not Support the Ridiculous Hysteria Around Climate At All”, “This Obsession With Carbon Dioxide Emissions Has Led to Tragedy”, and “The World Is at War – The West’s Green Policies Are Playing Into Our Enemy’s Hands”.

Epoch Times Bulgaria has posted three anti-climate ads since the beginning of the year, one of which was entitled “scientists alarmed that there is no real evidence that CO2 is causing climate change”.

Meta has pledged to take action against false narratives on climate change, and the platform has committing to using a “suite of tools, such as fact checking and labels, to help combat climate misinformation.”

In May 2021, Facebook said that it would begin attaching informational labels to posts about climate change, directing users to the platform’s new “Climate Science Information Center”.

However, research conducted in 2022 by the Center for Countering Digital Hate found that Facebook is failing to flag at least half of climate misinformation content.

“Despite claiming to take climate misinformation seriously, Meta has a history of allowing climate disinformation posts with high-engagement to go unchecked,” said Ilana Berger, senior climate and energy disinformation researcher at the misinformation watchdog Media Matters. “If Meta is committed to combating climate disinformation on its platform, it must at the very least consistently enforce its existing policies.”

Meanwhile, following his takeover of Twitter in 2022, Elon Musk has slashed the number of staff who identify harmful content and misinformation. X did not respond to DeSmog’s request for comment.

“Climate misinformation threatens all of our futures – and with elections pending across Europe, the stakes could not be higher,” said Richard Wilson, director of the campaign group Stop Funding Heat. “But the same money that is fuelling this problem could also be the key to a solution. If enough advertisers speak out, and urge Facebook and Twitter to stop climate lies being promoted through their platforms, they will have to clean up their act.”

Original article by Joey Grostern republished from DeSmog.

Continue ReadingPro-Trump Platform Promotes Climate Science Denial Ads to Millions Across Europe

Nancy Pelosi roasts Liz Truss and Boris Johnson over their support for Trump

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Pelosi questioned, highlighting Trump’s history of bigoted remarks targeting women, the LGBTQ+ community, and people of colour.

The former Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, has slammed former prime ministers Liz Truss and Boris Johnson for their endorsements of Donald Trump, in a stinging rebuke.

Pelosi made the comments during an interview with BBC One’s Laura Kuenssberg, where she took apart the arguments of the likes of Truss and Johnson who claim that the world would be safer under a Trump presidency.

Earlier this month, Truss claimed that the world would be safer under a Trump presidency. She also told the BBC: “I do agree that under Donald Trump when he was president of the United States, the world was safer.

Continue ReadingNancy Pelosi roasts Liz Truss and Boris Johnson over their support for Trump

U.S. imperialism’s ‘ironclad’ support for Israel increases fascist danger at home

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Original article by C.J. ATKINS republished from peoples world under Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States.

The Biden administration’s declaration of ‘ironclad support’ for Israel threatens to drive a wedge between the president and progressive voters, a potential electoral gift for Trump. In this photo, a woman walks by an election campaign billboard in Tel Aviv for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party that shows the Israeli leader with Donald Trump, Sept 15, 2019. Hebrew on billboard reads: ‘Netanyahu, in another league.’ | Oded Balilty / AP

President Joe Biden declared Saturday that U.S. support for Israel is “ironclad” as more than 300 slow-moving Iranian drones and missiles meandered across the sky toward Israeli military installations. With assistance from the U.S., Britain, France, and Jordan, it’s estimated that 99% of the weapons were destroyed in the air before reaching their targets. There were zero people killed.

As Biden’s declaration was being reported, the Pentagon issued a statement saying that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had spoken with his Israeli counterpart “and made clear that Israel could count on full U.S. support.”

On television, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu peddled the image of a besieged Israel fighting for its life. Wearing a stern face, he said, “We will defend ourselves against any threat and will do so level-headedly and with determination.”

Of course, once the cameras were off, the Israeli leader was no doubt smiling. That’s because the pledges from Biden and Austin guaranteed that U.S. weapons will keep flowing his way and that Western leaders’ criticism of his genocidal war in Gaza—which has killed more than 33,000 Palestinians—will be tamped down.

It wasn’t just Netanyahu celebrating this weekend, though. Here in the U.S., ex-President Donald Trump and his allies were also beaming. The militaristic neocons and religious extremists that make up different wings of the Republican coalition were united in cheering for a bigger war and blaming Biden for disaster.

They sense a moment of opportunity to divide anti-MAGA forces, and the policy being pursued by the White House is unfortunately aiding them in their effort. All these developments combine to make the demand for an immediate arms embargo on Israel all the more urgent.

Settler rampage: A Palestinian woman attacked by illegal Israeli settlers arrives at the Palestine Medical Complex in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Friday, April 12, 2024. While the world was consumed with the Iranian attack on Israel, dozens of Israeli settlers rampaged through a Palestinian village, killing Palestinians and destroying property. In Gaza, meanwhile, the genocidal destruction also continued unabated. | Nasser Nasser / AP

Netanyahu’s partial victory

The U.S. response to the Iranian attack was a partial victory for Netanyahu.

The weekend assault by Tehran was the result of Israel’s April 1 bombing of the Iranian Embassy in Damascus, Syria. That last part is worth stating again—the Iranian attack this weekend was not some unprovoked incident; it was retaliation for an Israeli action that killed 13 people at an Iranian diplomatic outpost two weeks ago.

If one were only getting their news from the mainstream corporate media in the U.S. or listening to the words of many political leaders in Washington, they would probably never know that it was Israel that had provoked Iran.

That doesn’t make the latter part of some anti-imperialist alliance nor necessarily a friend of the Palestinians, but it is a context that is inconvenient for the narrative of an innocent Israel alone against aggressive neighbors.

At any rate, Netanyahu managed to prompt Iran to elevate the war danger. That will get him his weapons and temporarily hush the increasingly critical voices of allies skeptical of his execution of the war in Gaza. But the Iran provocation was not quite the complete win he’d hoped for.

The bigger goal was to escalate the war against Gaza into a wider regional war that would include direct U.S. involvement in the fighting. He wants to make U.S. imperialism not just his accomplice but his direct partner in waging war in the Middle East.

Why? The reasons are many.

So far, the Gaza genocide is not achieving many of its declared aims. Hamas has not been smashed. The hostages have not been freed. Gaza has been destroyed and tens of thousands have been killed, but the plan to completely eradicate the Palestinian presence there hasn’t materialized. That’s the case thanks to both Palestinian resistance and the refusal of Israel’s neighboring states to transform themselves into permanent refugee camps.

Meanwhile, the war is increasingly unpopular at home, and hundreds of thousands are demanding elections in Israel—elections which would certainly result in Netanyahu’s removal from office and the resumption of a long-delayed corruption trial that could send him to prison.

Clearly, he needs and wants this war to drag on as long as possible and to become as big and involve as many countries as possible, particularly one country—the United States.

To Netanyahu’s disappointment, however, Biden told him to consider the shootdown of all the Iranian missiles “a win” and close the book for now: Don’t expect U.S. help in any follow-up attacks on Iran.

The coalition for war

But there are other forces coalescing to give Israel the bigger war it wants.

John Bolton—former Trump cabinet member and one of the architects of the U.S. war in Iraq—is rallying neocons in the U.S. to squeeze Biden. Ever since President George W. Bush declared Iran to be part of the “Axis of Evil” over 20 years ago, Bolton and his allies have been angling for a fight with that country.

In January this year, he was already telegraphing the message that the U.S. has “no option but to attack Iran.”  This weekend, he said “passivity…would be a big mistake” and said Biden was “an embarrassment” for urging Israel not to attack Iran (again).

The Evangelical Christian leaders who command major swathes of the Trump MAGA coalition, meanwhile, are revving up their followers for war, as well.

Televangelist Pastor John Hagee, founder of the lobbyist group Christians United for Israel, characterized the Iranian attack as the fulfillment of prophecy, the beginning of the “Gog and Magog war” predicted in the Bible. Demonizing those who advocate a ceasefire in Gaza, Hagee said on Sunday that “the word de-escalate is music to the ears of Hamas and Iran.”

He and other pro-war Christian leaders will be going to Congress “like a bulldozer” in the coming days, he said, ordering lawmakers to “bless Israel” with more U.S. taxpayer-funded weaponry. In the meantime, he urged the faithful to bless the ministry run by him and his son with their hard-earned money.

Then, turning to the 2024 U.S. elections, Hagee indirectly endorsed Donald Trump when he called the Iranian attack on Israel “a tribute to the weak and pathetic leadership of Joe Biden.”

Fascist threat, imperialist strategy

Although Hagee’s remarks are often dismissed as the ravings of a conman cult leader, he illuminates the class and democratic contradictions that define U.S. capitalism and an electoral contest that is forcing voters to choose between two varieties of imperialism.

The absurdity of the moment was perhaps best illustrated when the red-hatted legions at a Trump rally in Pennsylvania on Sunday broke into chants of “Genocide Joe,” and their leader responded, “They’re not wrong!”

Trump paired his apparent acknowledgement that Israel was committing genocide with U.S. complicity with a “God bless Israel” platitude and an affirmation that the Iranian attack wouldn’t have happened if he was president.

Follow the logic (if there is such a thing with Trump), and you get a pledge that he will do an even better job at assisting in genocide and supporting the Israeli military if he is re-elected.

An open fascist who has already tried to overthrow the U.S. government before and is working tirelessly with Republican officials across the country to destroy democracy is openly and cynically attempting to drive a wedge between the Democratic nominee and anti-war voters with a pro-war message.

Does Trump actually expect to win the votes of many pro-Palestinian voters? No, most of them wouldn’t give him the time of day, and he knows it. The goal is to demobilize progressive voters and stoke discontent toward Biden. Trump’s team has done its calculations, and it knows that getting Democratic-leaning voters to stay home in a few key states could be enough for him to win. And the threat extends down-ballot, because it’s not just Biden who’d be in trouble but other progressive candidates running on the Democratic ticket at the state and local levels, as well.

Unfortunately, the imperialist strategy being pursued by the Biden administration is making Trump’s task easier. The unity that’s needed to block fascism at the polls in November is jeopardized every time the president approves another weapons shipment to Israel or reaffirms his “ironclad” support of the government in Tel Aviv.

Ceasefire alone cannot be the demand of the peace movement in our country. A total and complete arms embargo on Israel is an absolute necessity—not just for saving the lives of the Palestinian people and preventing a wider Middle East war, but for saving U.S. democracy from a fascist takeover.

Many organizations and leaders are already making that call, including Jewish Voice for Peace, which on Sunday issued yet another call for the U.S. to end all military funding and weapons sales.

Rep. Cori Bush again reiterated the demand she and other lawmakers have made for an end to the “shameful and unconditional” arming of the Israeli government as it commits war crimes. “The people of our country do not want war,” she said.

There are a million reasons to vote against Trump in November, and almost everyone who is a part of or connected to the mass labor, anti-war, African-American, Latino, immigrant rights, LGBTQ, and other democratic movements know them by heart. But the Democratic National Committee and the Biden campaign cannot simply rely on the bogeyman of Trump to motivate voters. The administration’s Gaza policy must change.

Every dollar for Israel’s war is another crack in the anti-MAGA coalition that’s needed to stop fascism in November.

As with all news-analytical and op-ed articles published by People’s World, this article reflects the views of its author.

We hope you appreciated this article. At People’s World, we believe news and information should be free and accessible to all, but we need your help. Our journalism is free of corporate influence and paywalls because we are totally reader-supported. Only you, our readers and supporters, make this possible. If you enjoy reading People’s World and the stories we bring you, please support our work by donating or becoming a monthly sustainer today. Thank you!

Original article by C.J. ATKINS republished from peoples world under Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States.

Continue ReadingU.S. imperialism’s ‘ironclad’ support for Israel increases fascist danger at home

‘Finish the Problem’: Presumptive GOP Nominee Trump Endorses Gaza Genocide

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Original article by JAKE JOHNSON republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). 

Former U.S. President Donald Trump attends a Super Tuesday election night watch party in Palm Beach, Florida on March 5, 2024.  (Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images)

One commentator argued that while President Joe Biden has “bent over backward to support Israel,” Donald Trump would “be even worse.”

Shortly before winning nearly every GOP primary on Super Tuesday and all but locking up the 2024 Republican nomination, former President Donald Trump said in a Fox News interview that he wants Israel to “finish the problem” in Gaza—a clear endorsement of a military campaign that has killed more than 30,000 people in less than five months and sparked one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes in recent history.

Fox host Brian Kilmeade told Trump that voters who have marked “uncommitted” on their primary ballots to register their opposition to President Joe Biden’s support for Israel’s war are “not gonna like you either because you are firmly in Israel’s camp.”

“Yeah,” Trump responded.

Asked whether he is “on board with the way the [Israel Defense Forces] is taking the fight to Gaza,” Trump said, “You’ve gotta finish the problem.”

“You had a horrible invasion. It took place. It would have never happened if I was president, by the way,” said Trump, who went on to claim that Hamas militants attacked Israel because they “have no respect for Biden” and because Israel “got soft.”

Trump dodged when asked whether he would support a cease-fire in Gaza.


Until Tuesday, Trump had largely been quiet about Israel’s large-scale attack on the Gaza Strip, but as president he was a staunch supporter of the Israeli government.

Trump’s administration recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, moved the American embassy to Jerusalem, and reversed longstanding U.S. policy that deemed Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory “inconsistent with international law”—a shift that the Biden administration rolled back last month.

Following Trump’s Fox interview Tuesday morning, the former president’s national press secretary Karoline Leavitt toldNBC News that Trump “did more for Israel than any American president in history.”

“When President Trump is back in the Oval Office, Israel will once again be protected, Iran will go back to being broke, terrorists will be hunted down, and the bloodshed will end,” Leavitt added.

With former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley officially dropping out of the GOP presidential primary race on Wednesday, a rematch between Biden and Trump is now essentially set for November.

As Democratic voters have used state party primaries in recent weeks to voice their objections to Biden’s unconditional support for Israel, The New York Times reported Friday how the Trump campaign and its allies “plan to exploit that division to their advantage” during the general election.

“One idea under discussion among Trump allies as a way to drive the Palestinian wedge deeper into the Democratic Party,” the Times reports, “is to run advertisements in heavily Muslim areas of Michigan that would thank Mr. Biden for ‘standing with Israel.'”

In a column on Monday, The Intercept‘s James Risen argued that Trump and “his MAGA Republicans” would “be even worse” on Israel than the Biden administration, which has supported Israel’s Gaza assault militarily and diplomatically while also issuing mild calls for the protection of civilians, delivery of humanitarian aid, and a temporary cease-fire.

“Trump is a big fan of war crimes, especially against Muslims,” wrote Risen, The Intercept‘s senior national security correspondent. “During his first term, he intervened on behalf of Special Operations Chief Eddie Gallagher, a Navy SEAL platoon leader convicted of posing for a photo with the body of a dead Iraqi; another SEAL team member told investigators that Gallagher was ‘freaking evil,’ but Trump said at a political rally that he was one of ‘our great fighters.’ Trump also pardoned Blackwater contractors convicted of killing Iraqi civilians in a wild shooting spree in Baghdad’s Nisour Square. There is no chance that he would try to stop Israel from indiscriminately killing Palestinians.”

“Although the Biden administration has bent over backward to support Israel, the president has said repeatedly in recent weeks that an independent Palestinian state is still possible. What’s more, political unrest within the Democratic Party is starting to have an impact on Biden, forcing changes in the White House’s approach to Israel,” Risen continued. “Trump would never face such pro-Palestinian pressure from within the Republican Party. He and his MAGA cult of Christian nationalists would never force Israel to accept a cease-fire—or a Palestinian state.”

A previous version of this story misidentified Nikki Haley as the former governor of North Carolina.

Original article by JAKE JOHNSON republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). 

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Continue Reading‘Finish the Problem’: Presumptive GOP Nominee Trump Endorses Gaza Genocide

Analysis: Trump election win could add 4bn tonnes to US emissions by 2030

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Original article by Simon Evans and Verner Viisainen republished from Carbon Brief under a CC license

Former US president Donald Trump at a Republican convention in California on 29 September 2023. Credit: Associated Press / Alamy Stock Photo
Former President Donald Trump gesture to the crowd before his speech at the California Republican Party Convention Friday, Sept. 29, 2023, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

A victory for Donald Trump in November’s presidential election could lead to an additional 4bn tonnes of US emissions by 2030 compared with Joe Biden’s plans, Carbon Brief analysis reveals.

This extra 4bn tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e) by 2030 would cause global climate damages worth more than $900bn, based on the latest US government valuations.

For context, 4GtCO2e is equivalent to the combined annual emissions of the EU and Japan, or the combined annual total of the world’s 140 lowest-emitting countries.

Put another way, the extra 4GtCO2e from a second Trump term would negate – twice over – all of the savings from deploying wind, solar and other clean technologies around the world over the past five years.

If Trump secures a second term, the US would also very likely miss its global climate pledge by a wide margin, with emissions only falling to 28% below 2005 levels by 2030. The US’s current target under the Paris Agreement is to achieve a 50-52% reduction by 2030.

Carbon Brief’s analysis is based on an aggregation of modelling by various US research groups. It highlights the significant impact of the Biden administration’s climate policies. This includes the Inflation Reduction Act – which Trump has pledged to reverse – along with several other policies.

The findings are subject to uncertainty around economic growth, fuel and technology prices, the market response to incentives and the extent to which Trump is able to roll back Biden’s policies.

The analysis might overstate the impact Trump could have on US emissions, if some of Biden’s policies prove hard to unpick – or if subnational climate action accelerates.

Equally, it might understate Trump’s impact. For example, his pledge to “drill, baby, drill” is not included within the analysis and would likely raise US and global emissions further through the increased extraction and burning of oil, gas and coal.

Also not included are the potential for Biden to add new climate policies if he wins a second term, nor the risk that some of his policies will be weakened, delayed or hit by legal challenges.

Regardless of the precise impact, a second Trump term that successfully dismantles Biden’s climate legacy would likely end any global hopes of keeping global warming below 1.5C.

The ‘Trump effect’ on US emissions

US greenhouse gas emissions have been falling steadily since 2005, due to a combination of economic shifts, greater efficiency, the growth of renewables and a shift from coal to gas power.

Since taking office in early 2021, Biden has pledged under the Paris Agreement to accelerate that trend by cutting US emissions to 50-52% below 2005 levels in 2030 and to net-zero in 2050.

He has implemented a long list of policies – most notably the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act – to keep those targets within reach. (See: How the Biden administration is tackling warming.)

In the “Biden” scenario in the figure below (blue line), all federal climate policies currently in place or in the process of being finalised are assumed to continue. The scenario does not include any new climate policies that might be adopted after November’s election.

The administration’s current climate policies are expected to cut US emissions significantly, bringing the country close to meeting its 2030 target range. Nevertheless, a gap remains between projected emissions and those needed to meet the 2030 and 2050 targets (green).

The “Trump” scenario (red line) assumes the IRA and other key Biden administration climate policies are rolled back. It does not include further measures that Trump could take to boost fossil fuels or undermine the progress of clean energy. (See: What a second-term Trump might do.)

For both projections, the shaded area shows the range of results from six different models, with varying assumptions on economic growth, fuel costs and the price of low-carbon technologies.

Black line: Historical US greenhouse gas emissions 1990-2022, billions of tonnes of CO2 equivalent. Red line and area: Projected emissions under the “Trump” scenario where Biden’s key climate policies are eliminated. Blue line and area: Projected emissions under the “Biden” scenario with the IRA and other key climate policies. Yellow: US climate target trajectory pledged by the Biden administration (50-52% by 2030). The range for each projection corresponds to results from six different models and uncertainty around economic growth, as well as the costs for low-carbon technologies and fossil fuels. Source: Carbon Brief analysis of modelling in Bistline et al. (2023) and Rhodium Group (Taking stock 2023). Chart by Carbon Brief.
Black line: Historical US greenhouse gas emissions 1990-2022, billions of tonnes of CO2 equivalent. Red line and area: Projected emissions under the “Trump” scenario where Biden’s key climate policies are eliminated. Blue line and area: Projected emissions under the “Biden” scenario with the IRA and other key climate policies. Yellow: US climate target trajectory pledged by the Biden administration (50-52% by 2030). The range for each projection corresponds to results from six different models and uncertainty around economic growth, as well as the costs for low-carbon technologies and fossil fuels. Source: Carbon Brief analysis of modelling in Bistline et al. (2023) and Rhodium Group (Taking stock 2023). Chart by Carbon Brief.

In total, the analysis suggests that US greenhouse gas emissions would fall to 28% below 2005 levels by 2030 if Trump secures a second term and rolls back Biden’s policies – far short of the 50-52% target. If Biden is reelected, emissions would fall to around 43% below 2005 levels.

In the Trump scenario, annual US greenhouse gas emissions would be around 1GtCO2e higher in 2030 than under Biden, resulting in a cumulative addition of around 4GtCO2e by that year.

Based on the recently updated central estimate of the social cost of carbon from the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) – which stands at some $230 per tonne of CO2 in 2030 – those 4GtCO2e of extra emissions would cause global climate damages worth more $900bn.

To put the additional emissions in context, EU greenhouse gas emissions currently stand at around 3GtCO2e per year, while Japan’s are another 1GtCO2e. If the EU meets its climate goals, then its emissions would fall to 2GtCO2e in 2030 and to below 1GtCO2e in 2040.

Only eight of the world’s nearly 200 countries have emissions that exceed 1GtCO2e per year – and 4GtCO2e is more than the combined yearly total from the 140 lowest-emitting nations.

Expressed another way, the extra 4GtCO2e would be equivalent to double all of the emissions savings secured globally, over the past five years, by deploying wind, solar, electric vehicles, nuclear and heat pumps.

Carbon Brief’s analysis highlights several key points.

First, that Biden’s climate goals for the US in 2030 and 2050 will not be met, without further policy measures after the next election.

This could include additional state-level action, which could yield an additional 4 percentage points of emissions savings by 2030. Added to the “Biden” pathway, this would take US emissions to 47% below 2005 levels – closer to, but still not in line with the 2030 pledge.

Second, despite this policy gap, Biden’s current climate policies go a significant way towards meeting the 2030 target and could be added to in the future.

Third, if Trump is able to remove all of Biden’s key climate policies, then the US is all but guaranteed to miss its targets by a wide margin.

Given the scale of US emissions and its influence on the world, this makes the election crucial to hopes of limiting warming to 1.5C. (See: The global climate implications of the US election.)

Finally, there is policy uncertainty around which policies will be finalised, how strong any final rules will be, what legal challenges they may face and how easy they prove to roll back.

There is also uncertainty – illustrated by the ranges in the chart – around the impact of Biden’s policies, the response of households, business and industry to those measures, and the rate of economic growth, as well as over future prices for fossil fuels and low-carbon technologies.

These uncertainties are partly – but not entirely – captured by the six models underlying the analysis, which have different model structures and input assumptions.

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How the Biden administration is tackling warming

In 2015, the then-president Barack Obama pledged a 26-28% reduction in US emissions below 2005 levels by 2025 as an intended “nationally determined contribution” (iNDC) to the Paris Agreement.

On taking office in 2017, the climate-sceptic president Trump then pulled the US out of the Paris Agreement, attracting global opprobrium. He then rolled back or replaced Obama-era climate policies, including the Clean Power Plan, while attempting – unsuccessfully – to prop up coal.

Trump’s successor as president, Joe Biden, campaigned in 2020 on a platform of a “clean energy revolution”. On gaining office in 2021, he immediately rejoined the Paris Agreement and then issued a more ambitious pledge to cut US emissions to 50-52% below 2005 levels by 2030.

Biden also pledged to decarbonise the electricity grid by 2035 and joined roughly 150 other countries in committing the US to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 – the global benchmark, if the world is to keep warming below 1.5C.

In order to keep these targets within reach, the Biden administration has ushered in a series of climate policies. Most notable is the 2022 IRA, unexpectedly passed by Congress after a 51-50 Senate vote, with the tie broken by the vice president Kamala Harris.

This has been called the largest package of domestic climate measures in US history. It offers incentives covering a broad swathe of the economy from low-carbon manufacturing to clean energy, electric vehicles, “climate-smart” agriculture and low-carbon hydrogen.

The IRA accounts for the most significant part of the emissions reductions expected as a result of Biden’s climate policies to date and shown by the blue line in the figure above.

It includes grants, loans and tax credits initially estimated to be worth $369bn. However, most of the tax credits are not capped, meaning the overall cost and impact on emissions is uncertain.

In general, cost estimates have risen since its passing, as investments triggered by the bill’s incentives have rolled in, with some now putting its ultimate cost above $1tn.

However, a recent analysis of progress since the bill passed in 2021 shows that while electric vehicle sales are running at the top end of what was expected in earlier modelling of the IRA’s impact, the deployment of clean electricity – in particular, wind power – is falling slightly behind.

(Another recent study looks at the behavioural challenges that could affect the success or failure of the IRA, including as a result of political polarisation. Separately, gas power expansion plans from several major US utilities also pose a challenge to the IRA.)

Other Biden administration initiatives with important implications for US emissions include the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Actloans for nuclear power plants and new standards on appliance efficiency issued by the Department of Energy.

Meanwhile, the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) has finalised rules on methane emissions from oil and gas facilities. It has also proposed – but not yet finalised – rules on vehicle fuel standards, power plant greenhouse gas standards and power plant air pollution.

The administration is now rushing to finalise these rules within the next couple of months, so that they could not be overturned easily after the election using the Congressional Review Act.

The administration is reportedly planning to weaken its proposed vehicle fuel standards. The final version would retain the original aim of having two-thirds of new sales be all-electric by 2032, but would ease the trajectory to reaching that target, according to the New York Times. This would reduce the emissions-cutting impact, relative to what is assumed in the “Biden” scenario.

Separately, the administration is reported to be exempting existing gas-fired units from its proposed power plant emissions rules, focusing for now on existing coal and future gas-fired units. The New York Times quotes EPA administrator Michael Regan saying this will “achieve greater emissions reductions”, but the timescales could also affect the scenario projection.

Meanwhile, Biden has also overseen a rare Senate approval of an international climate treaty, when it ratified the Kigali Amendment on tackling climate-warming hydrofluorocarbons in 2022, with the US EPA issuing related rules the following year. 

In addition, Biden’s time in office has seen further state-level action on emissions. This includes California’s clean car standards, as strengthened in 2022 and adopted by six other states.

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What a second-term Trump might do

For his part, former president and Republican front-runner Donald Trump has made no secret of his desire to roll back his predecessor’s climate policies, just as he did during his first term.

For example, in 2018, the Trump administration lifted Obama-era rules on toxic air pollution from electricity generating and industrial sites – with Biden now moving to reverse the reversal.

Similarly, in 2020, his administration rolled back an Obama-era EPA rule on methane emissions from the oil and gas industry. The Biden administration’s methane rule could face a similar fate under a second Trump term.

Trump also has form when it comes to energy efficiency regulations, which he rolled back in 2020.

In November 2023, the Financial Times reported that Trump was “planning to gut” the IRA, increase investment in fossil fuels and roll back regulations to encourage electric vehicles. The newspaper added that Trump had called the IRA the “biggest tax hike in history”.

It quoted Carla Sands, an adviser to Trump, as saying:

“On the first day of a second Trump administration, the president has committed to rolling back every single one of Joe Biden’s job-killing, industry-killing regulations.”

Indeed, Republicans in the US House of Representatives have already made multiple attempts to repeal parts of the IRA. While some analysts think a full repeal of the act is unlikely, it is clear that a second-term Trump could – as Politico put it – ”hobble the climate law”.

A February 2024 commentary from investment firm Trium Capital argues that the impact on IRA will depend not only on whether Trump wins victory in November, but also on whether the Republicans retain control of the House and gain a Senate majority.

Even if the Republicans win all three races, the commentary suggests that some parts of IRA might survive beyond the election. It says that consumer incentives for electric vehicles and home heating are “most at risk”, whereas tax credits for clean energy might only be modified.

Equally, MIT Technology Review says that clean energy and EV tax credits both “appear especially vulnerable, climate policy experts say”. The publication adds: 

“Moreover, Trump’s wide-ranging pledges to weaken international institutions, inflame global trade wars, and throw open the nation’s resources to fossil-fuel extraction could have compounding effects on any changes to the IRA, potentially undermining economic growth, the broader investment climate, and prospects for emerging green industries.”

Meanwhile, Trump has also criticised Biden’s infrastructure act and previously revoked California’s ability to set tougher car emissions standards, which are also adopted by other states.

In 2022, the California “waiver” was reinstated by Biden, who also opposed a 2023 Republican bill designed to remove California’s right to regulate. Yet the waiver is now embroiled in legal action brought by Republican states, expected to end up in the Supreme Court.

If he emerges victorious in November, Trump would also “plan to destroy the EPA”, according to a Guardian article published earlier this month. It reported:

“Donald Trump and his advisers have made campaign promises to toss crucial environmental regulations and boost the planet-heating fossil fuel sector. Those plans include systematically dismantling the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the federal body with the most power to take on the climate emergency and environmental justice, an array of Trump advisers and allies said.”

The paper cites Project 2025, described as “a presidential agenda put forth by the Heritage Foundation and other conservative organisations”. It also quotes Mandy Gunasekara, Trump’s EPA chief of staff and a contributor to the Project 2025 agenda.

After Trump was elected for the first time, many scientists, politicians and campaigners argued that his presidency would only have a relatively short-term effect on emissions and climate goals.

Many of his first-term efforts to rollback climate rules and boost fossil fuels ended in failure.

While some modelling suggested that his first presidency would delay hitting global emissions targets by a decade, Carbon Brief analysis found that US states and cities might be able to take sufficient steps to meet the country’s then-current climate goal without federal action.

However, another recent Guardian article says that a second-term Trump would be “even more extreme for the environment than his first, according to interviews with multiple Trump allies and advisers”. It adds:

“In contrast to a sometimes chaotic first White House term, they outlined a far more methodical second presidency: driving forward fossil fuel production, sidelining mainstream climate scientists and overturning rules that curb planet-heating emissions.”

Carbon Brief’s “Trump” scenario does not include additional fossil fuel emissions as a result of policies supporting coal, oil and gas production or use, as the success or otherwise of any such efforts are highly uncertain.

In addition, higher US fossil fuel production would not all be consumed domestically and would not increase global demand on a one-for-one basis.

While it would be likely to raise demand and emissions, both domestically and internationally, the precise impact would depend on the response of markets and overseas policymakers.

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The global climate implications of the US election

If Biden – or another Democrat – wins the election in November and if his party regains control over the House and Senate, then they could push to implement new climate policies in 2025.

There is a clear need for further policy, if US climate goals are to be met. Moreover, the expiration of a large number of tax cuts at the end of 2025 could present an opportunity to deploy carbon pricing in support of raising revenues – and cutting emissions – according to a recent study.

It suggests that a price on emissions, described as a “carbon fee”, could significantly boost US chances of hitting its 2030 target, even if paired with a partial repeal of the IRA.

(Note that the “Repeal IRA; no new emissions rules” scenario in this study is similar to the “Trump” scenario in Carbon Brief’s analysis. However, the model used in the study finds a relatively weak 2030 emissions impact of the IRA compared with most of the five others, with which it is aggregated by Carbon Brief.)

An additional point of leverage is the EU’s carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM), which will put a carbon price on US exports unless they face an equivalent price domestically, according to Democratic senator Sheldon Whitehouse, speaking at a launch event for the study:

“The 2025 opportunity when the Trump tax cuts collapse [creates] huge room for negotiation. Then you’ve got the CBAM happening in Europe that puts enormous pressure to get a price of carbon, if you want to avoid being tariffed at the EU and UK level.”

Whether a second-term Biden administration would attempt to put a price on carbon or not, it would be likely to push forward new policies in pursuit of US climate targets.

In contrast, a victory for Donald Trump could be expected, at a minimum, to result in full or partial repeal of the IRA and rollbacks of Biden’s climate rules, including power plants, cars and methane.

This is reflected in Carbon Brief’s “Trump” scenario, which would add a cumulative 4GtCO2e to US emissions by 2030, as shown in the figure below.

Moreover, assuming no further policy changes, this cumulative total would continue to climb beyond 2030, reaching 15GtCO2e by 2040 and a huge 27GtCO2e by 2050.

Cumulative increase in US emissions, GtCO2e, under the “Trump” scenario relative to the “Biden” scenario, assuming no further policy changes beyond rolling back the IRA and key Biden administration climate rules. The range corresponds to results from six different models and uncertainty around economic growth, as well as the costs for low-carbon technologies and fossil fuels. Source: Carbon Brief analysis of modelling in Bistline et al. (2023) and Rhodium Group (Taking stock 2023). Chart by Carbon Brief.
Cumulative increase in US emissions, GtCO2e, under the “Trump” scenario relative to the “Biden” scenario, assuming no further policy changes beyond rolling back the IRA and key Biden administration climate rules. The range corresponds to results from six different models and uncertainty around economic growth, as well as the costs for low-carbon technologies and fossil fuels. Source: Carbon Brief analysis of modelling in Bistline et al. (2023) and Rhodium Group (Taking stock 2023). Chart by Carbon Brief.

The increases in cumulative emissions under the “Trump” scenario are so large that they would imperil not only the US climate targets, but also global climate goals. (Under the 22nd amendment of the US constitution, Trump would not be allowed to run for a third term.)

In 2022, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) sixth assessment report (AR6) said that it would be “impossible” to stay below 1.5C without strengthening current pledges:

“[F]ollowing current NDCs until 2030…[would make] it impossible to limit warming to 1.5C with no or limited overshoot and strongly increas[e] the challenge to likely limit warming to 2C.”

The corollary of this is that if the US – the world’s second-largest emitter – misses its 2030 target by a wide margin, then it would be likely to end any hope of keeping global warming below 1.5C.

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How the analysis was carried out

The two scenarios set out in this analysis are based on an aggregation of modelling published by Bistline et al. (2023) and the Rhodium Group (2023).

The first study was explained by the authors in a Carbon Brief guest post. It compares the impact of the IRA using results from 11 separate models, some of which only cover the power sector. Carbon Brief’s analysis uses results from the six models that cover the entire US economy.

The “Trump” scenario is based on the “reference” pathway in this study, corresponding to the average of the six models. The only modification is that the Trump scenario is set to match the Biden scenario below until 2024.

The “Biden” scenario is based on the average IRA pathway from this study, extended using modelling from the Rhodium Group to include the impact of further Biden administration policies. 

Carbon Brief’s analysis uses the “mid-emissions” pathway from the Rhodium study’s “federal-only” scenario, which includes the impact of vehicle fuel standards, power plant greenhouse gas and pollutant emissions rules, and energy efficiency regulations.

This additional Rhodium Group modelling is based on draft rules which have not yet been finalised and are subject to change, as well as to potential legal challenge, as discussed above.

The uncertainty shown for the “Trump” and “Biden” scenarios corresponds to the range in the six economy-wide models from Bistline et al. (2023).

Carbon Brief’s analysis does not include any additional post-2025 climate policies that could be adopted by a second Biden administration. Nor does it include the potential impact of pro-fossil fuel policies that could be introduced by a second Trump administration.

Finally, it also does not include additional subnational climate policies that could be introduced, nor does it consider the risk that current or future state action could be hit by federal or legal challenge.

Historical US greenhouse gas emissions are taken from the US EPA inventory through to 2021. Figures for 2022 and 2023 are based on estimated annual changes from the Rhodium Group.

Original article by Simon Evans and Verner Viisainen republished from Carbon Brief under a CC license

Continue ReadingAnalysis: Trump election win could add 4bn tonnes to US emissions by 2030