Fast Forward to November 4th 2020. The US Presidential Race is a close contest between Donald Trump and a Democratic challenger with sound environmental credentials.
It is three years after Trump announced that the US was withdrawing from the Paris Accord. November 4 2020 is the date when its withdrawal is effective.
Those years have been satisfactory for the wealthier segment of US citizens. Tax breaks for them and the corporations in which they have invested have paid off. Employment for blue collar workers is up, although increasing automation in manufacturing has kept the increase in the average wage down.
To a degree, American-controlled businesses are re-establishing factories in the US. These factories are benefitting from lower prices for energy generated by fossil fuels. This benefit is relatively unimportant so its disappearance is not a challenge. Energy from renewable sources has greatly increased.
Business executives, inventors and scientists have identified the great progress made by the US in bringing down the cost of renewable energy. This reality benefits Trump who uses this development to justify withdrawal from the Paris Accord. He claims that “this is the way that capitalism fixes physical problems in our world.”
US Business is slowly losing share in foreign markets. US Exports are down slightly principally because the US dollar is up as against other currencies.
Trump has a couple of issues where he is vulnerable. Most of these issues are domestic, such as health care.
The environment is not one of them. Many voters think that the extreme weather events over the last three years are just Mother Nature being ornery. The increasing monetary losses caused by these events are tolerated, as the Federal and State Governments have been generously compensating home owners and businesses for damages caused by these events. The clean-up has also generated many low-paying and part time jobs. Trump may claim that the improved financial position of the Federal Government under his leadership makes this possible.
Terrorism is another issue. Terrorist attacks on the US have increased, both in the US and abroad. The misery of African and middle-East countries has made it impossible to establish stable governments in these areas. As soon as one terrorist organization is suppressed by international action, another springs up. But voters are sceptical of claims that this consequence flows from the failure of the US to provide help to the world as it did in the 20th Century.
In fact climate change is not an issue in the campaign, as was the case in 2016. The world may be facing another four years without progress.
See our commentary of a month ago – anticipating that the US would withdraw from the Paris Accord.