Just a few months after becoming America's President, Donald Trump ensured that legislation promoting energy efficiency and energy-saving measures was abolished – supposedly to strengthen the economy. However, Trump should actually know, from his experience in the property industry, that energy saving and cost efficiency are not mutually exclusive. And in fact – before he became a politician – he very much appreciated the intelligent use of energy.
The great conspiracy – China’s climate protection
No one ever thought that things would get so bad. Admittedly, Donald Trump was previously not really known as an enthusiastic advocate of climate protection. His comment that climate change was a Chinese conspiracy theory to damage the USA has long since become legend. But people assumed or hoped that it was all just a big joke.
However, since taking office, the new American President has done everything to destroy this hope. After Trump’s inauguration, the White House very soon reversed far-reaching climate decisions and energy efficiency standards that were introduced by the Obama administration.
The “America First Energy Plan”
The climate policy, “America First Energy Plan”, from Trump’s team makes no mention of renewable energies or energy efficiency and concentrates exclusively on fossil fuels. Scott Pruitt was appointed the new head of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – an oil lobbyist and well-known climate change denier. He quickly abolished the Clean Power Plan. This regulation had provided for the emission of climate-damaging greenhouse gases to be reduced in the American energy sector by 32% by 2030 compared with 2005. Pruitt then implemented Donald Trump’s wish to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, which had just been ratified. The justification for all this was always that it would strengthen the American economy.
Disasters caused by climate change
Parallel to these far-reaching decisions, 2017 again became one of the warmest years in the history of weather records. In various parts of the USA the population was stricken by disasters which, although not triggered directly by global warming, were definitely always favoured by it. High water temperatures cause the formation of hurricanes of the highest category and the USA therefore suffered a series of particularly destructive storms: hurricane Harvey caused severe damage in Texas and Louisiana. The tropical storm Maria devastated the US territory of Puerto Rico, resulting in hundreds of thousands of people having to live without power and water supplies even months later. The huge forest fires in California have destroyed vast areas of forest.
Smart, energy-saving properties
However, the businessman Donald J. Trump, who earned his fortune in the property business, was certainly not always such a strong opponent of energy efficiency measures. For example, in 2011 Trump’s company received state funds for energy-saving projects in two buildings in Manhattan. A year later, Trump received one million US dollars from an incentive programme and low-interest loans from New York State to implement energy-saving measures in a residential tower in Westchester County.
“I strongly believe in clean energy, in conserving energy, in all of that — more than anybody,” Trump is quoted in a fact sheet on the project. As part of this project, an ultramodern combined heat and power system was installed collecting the thermal energy from two power generators and using it to heat air and water. Energy is therefore repeatedly recycled within the building. Moreover, particularly energy efficient corridor lights were installed; they are controlled by motion sensors and therefore only switch on when needed. The swimming pool on the roof has a special covering to minimise evaporation and cut heating costs. These measures substantially reduced the energy costs of the building.
Trump the businessman appears to have known very well that apartments with low ancillary costs and cosy warm rooms are not only good for the environment but also for business.