Theoretically, when Trump is no longer President of the United States, we will work to undo all that he has done to harm America and the world. However there is one lasting impact he will have on the planet. Damage to the environment is a permanent injury that can’t be undone.
Everyone remembers Trump’s announcement that the United States was withdrawing from the Paris accord. However the reality is that there is no way for the U.S.—or any other country who signed it—to withdraw from Paris until four years after it went into effect. By coincidence or design, the process of withdrawal can only begin the day after the 2020 U.S. presidential elections. So the fact that Trump’s Rose Garden announcement did not lead to our actual withdrawal is not surprising. Trump can change his position on the Paris Accord after the 2020 election and not affect the environment. However there is more damage that is occurring that he may not be able to undo.
The Trump administration is preparing to unwind Obama-era limits on methane leaking from oil and gas wells, responding to industry concerns that the mandates meant to combat climate change are both unnecessary and too expensive.
The Environmental Protection Agency has prepared a proposal to ease two-year-old requirements forcing energy companies to find and stop methane leaks at new and modified oil and gas wells. The problem is that methane is so much worse for the environment than CO2 that it is outrageous to consider easing current regulations.
While CO2 persists in the atmosphere for centuries, or even millennia, methane warms the planet on steroids for a decade or two before decaying to CO2.
In those short decades, methane warms the planet by 84 times as much as CO2, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.