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The Geographical implications of a President Trump

Andy Day

9th November 2016

As the USA and the world absorbs the surprise of a Donald Trump victory in the American presidential election it is worth considering the implications of his policies for matters of geography.

Some of the greatest concern flows from climate scientists keen to see the carbon reduction targets – agreed by most of the world’s countries at the COP21 Paris Conference in December 2015 – committed to, enforced and fulfilled. Unfortunately, Donald Trump is an avowed climate-change sceptic. Stating that climate change is a media myth, he has said he will abandon the Clean Power plan of President Obama. It is likely he will relax environmental controls and take his foot off the US pedal to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. With Republicans controlling the Congress and the Senate – the two law-passing arms of government – it is likely he will be able to force through changes to the controls coming from the Paris Agreement.

While the rest of the world is likely to stand by the agreements made at Paris, statements of intent are empty if they are not followed by direct policy, laws, enforcement and consequences for bodies ignoring tighter regulations. A more lax USA may see other nations dilute their resolve to limit carbon emissions while not actually tearing up their stated intentions: a result that could see the world miss the maximum +2C target, which is already at risk of being exceeded by the intensifying rise in global temperature.

Within the USA, there is concern that a President Trump may get rid of the body that monitors and enforces environmental policy within the country: the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Trump has previously questioned its practices under the argument that it wastes government money and makes life more difficult for businesses. You can read more on the environmental consequences of a President Trump in this Vox article here.

In terms of international trade President Trump is likely to operate on three fronts:

  • Abandoning existing trade agreements with other countries that he finds unsatisfactory
  • Putting tariffs (import taxes) on goods coming in from foreign countries to stimulate US firms (their products will then be cheaper)
  • Reducing business taxes from the current 35% of corporate profits to 15% (They are currently 20% in the UK, with a plan from the previous chancellor to reduce them to 17%).

The consequences of these measures will be highly significant both for the US economy and internationally. It is likely to be more difficult (and expensive) for foreign firms to export their products to the USA (– a real problem for Canada which sees 73% of its exports go to its southern neighbour). International trade may slow, with implications for the profits of companies and employment rates in countries outside the USA, and by generating less taxable revenue from companies, a Trump presidency is likely to have less government money to spend on essential services. Trump’s argument is that lower business taxes will stimulate greater investment by companies and generate more profits and reduce unemployment. Read more on Donald Trump’s tax plans in this article from BBC Business News

What is in little doubt is that major changes are likely to occur in the environmental and economic spheres both within the USA, and globally – after the inauguration in January of President Trump.

Andy Day

Andy recently finished being a classroom geographer after 35 years at two schools in East Yorkshire as head of geography, head of the humanities faculty and director of the humanities specialism. He has written extensively about teaching and geography - with articles in the TES, Geography GCSE Wideworld and Teaching Geography.

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