As Donald Trump arrives in Ireland, we look at how his administration has targeted the most vulnerable and endangered our planet.
President Donald Trump pulled the US out from the Paris Climate Deal in June 2017, a crucial deal for our planet which took decades to negotiate. His administration has thrown open vast tracts of public land and water to oil, gas and coal mining. He has scrapped rules that stopped mining waste being dumped into rivers. Trump has disparaged climate science and has attempted to dismantle every major policy introduced to lower emissions.
The US itself is facing a climate emergency. Last year, US government scientists issued a 1,000-page climate change report. It warned that the country faces hundreds of billions of dollars in economic losses due to rising temperatures, flooding, wildfires, and worsening heatwaves. However, President Trump on Earth Day in April this year issued a statement that didn’t mention climate change or the environmental threats posed by deforestation, species loss and plastic pollution.
The Trump administration has done huge damage to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. The administration has cut all US funding for the UN agency UNRWA, which has a mandate to support and protect millions of Palestinian refugees who rely on its schools, healthcare, and social services.
Peace in the Middle East has been further threatened because Trump’s administration shows little respect for UN resolutions. For decades it has been US policy not to accept Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. The Golan Heights is an area of Syrian territory that Israel occupied during war, and International law is clear that you cannot take territory by force. However, Trump has recently proclaimed that the US will now accept Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
The Trump Administration has supported the Saudi-led coalition’s four year war in Yemen. This has exacerbated the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. 3.3 million people remain displaced from their homes, and an estimated 80% of the population, 24 million people, are in need of humanitarian aid.
Recently both US chambers of Congress passed a ‘war powers’ resolution, which demanded that Trump's administration cease all military engagement in Yemen. This bill would have ended US support for the Saudi-led war, yet President Trump vetoed it. More than 70,000 people have been killed in Yemen since January 2016 and in excess of 14 million people are on the brink of man-made famine.
Despite his best efforts, Trump has been unable to build his wall at the Mexico border due to resistance in the US Congress. The dispute over funding for the wall led to the longest shut-down of the US government in history.
Six migrant children have died in US custody. Trump has cut aid to central American countries and has imposed tariffs on Mexico, saying these countries are not doing enough to stem the flow of migrants into the US. The US aid programme was an important part of attempts to reduce the poverty and violence that drives people to take life-threatening journeys towards the US.
Trump has also erroneously claimed that migrants from Central America “have to” claim asylum in Mexico and not the US. Under the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees, of which the US is a signatory, the international legal framework for asylum, migrants and refugees have a right to seek asylum in a country of their choosing, the right to a fair process in that country, and crucially, a right not to be sent back to a country where they will face persecution.
Trump has also sharply cut the number of refugees the US allows to resettle within its borders from countries like Lebanon who are under enormous stress hosting millions of refugees. This is all the more disturbing when you consider the relative size of these host countries and their economic and political instability. The US voted against the Global Compact on Refugees that aims to strengthen the international response to large movements of refugees. 181 countries voted in favour, only two countries voted against: the US and Hungary.
Trump’s “America First” approach has seen the US become hostile to multilateral institutions such as the UN. John Bolton, Trump’s National Security Adviser has said that if he had his way, he would remake the UN Security Council with “one permanent member: the United States”.
Under Trump, the US has:
This approach threatens global peace and security and the very basis of international cooperation.
As Trump arrives in Ireland, we hope our leaders use whatever influence they have to urge the US to move away from policies that divide people, undermine peace and threaten the sustainability of our planet.
At Trócaire, we envisage a just and peaceful world where people’s dignity is ensured and rights are respected. Under Trump, the US is pushing the world in the opposite direction.