After President Trump was inaugurated, one of his first actions was to delete references to action on climate change from the White House website. He then went on to argue about the numbers attending the inauguration. Meanwhile Éamonn Meehan the Executive Director of Irish charity Trocaire was highlighting in his blog the five ways he claims that the new US President will hurt the world’s poor. They are summarised below.
Éamonn Meehan pictured on right
Éamonn Meehan sees the appointment of a climate change sceptic – Scott Pruitt – to the key position of head of the Environmental Protection Agency and his hostility towards science and enthusiastic embrace of coal and oil as a “nightmare scenario for anybody who cares about the future of the planet”. He says that Trump has promised to “cancel the Paris Agreement on climate change Agreement”. The deal has been structured in such a way that it “would take four years for any country to back out, but that has not stopped calls from his supporters to follow through on his pledge.”
The Trócaire Executive Director says that the new US President “champions coal production and has stated his desire to reduce regulation and restrictions on mining and fossil fuel production”. Mr Meehan points out that the recent UN Climate Change Conference pointedly stated that “momentum is irreversible” and he says that any attempt by the new US administration to counter this would seriously weaken global progress. “This will have a devastating impact, especially on the developing world, where people are already struggling in the face of worsening drought and extreme weather”
OVERSEAS DEVELOPMENT AID
Éamonn Meehan says that before becoming President, Mr Trump promised to “stop sending foreign aid to countries that hate us”. According to Meehan this is “open to huge interpretation, it signals the new US President’s desire to further politicise aid by only funding countries with governments considered friendly to US interests.” About one third of American aid is directed at health programmes, so any reduction would, according to the Trocaire chief, have an immediate impact on progress against disease, particularly in Africa. What Mr Meehan sees as worrying would be if Trump uses aid money as a way to influence domestic policies across Africa and the Middle East. “Given Chinese influence in Africa, this could spark a mini-Cold War across the continent as east and west prop up friendly regimes”
THE MIDDLE EAST
President Obama and Secretary of State, John Kerry, opposed Israel’s ongoing policy of settlement construction. Éamonn Meehan says that Trump “will likely give Benjamin Netanyahu a free pass to annex land and continue this policy” Two days after the inauguration we see settlement construction resuming. Trump’s stated intention to reverse decades of US policy, by moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is seen as ‘worrying” as it “would enflame tensions in the region”.
Last Saturday we saw the huge protest against Trump by over a million women across the US and all over the world. Trump’s election was condemned by equality activists around the world. In India, where women face endemic violence, Éamonn Meehan reports that activists there said that Trump’s victory was devastating because of America’s global leadership role.
It is estimated that one in three women worldwide have experienced either physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. Given the well-publicised comments by the new American President on the matter, Eamonn Meehan says that Trump’s election is “a huge setback for efforts to protect women around the world.”
Trump’s most publicised plan was his proposal to construct a wall along the Mexican border. The Trócaire Director says that even if this plan never sees fruition, it seems inevitable that he will clamp down on migration. He points out that poor communities in Central America are often hugely reliant on remittances from relatives working in the United States. The casual nature of migration back and forth, he says, has echoes of Irish people’s reliance on the building sites of England in the past. “I have been in villages in Guatemala and Honduras where money from America is the difference between having food and going hungry. Trump’s hostility towards migration will have a devastating impact on these families. Sadly, they are not the only ones bracing themselves for a stormy period ahead.”
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