Former president Barack Obama has publicly dismissed his successor’s actions on the coronavirus pandemic, comparing the crisis to Donald Trump’s climate denialism as the Republican rolled back Obama-era fuel standards.
On Tuesday, the Trump administration announced it would weaken tough fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks introduced by Mr Obama and designed to combat the climate crisis.
In a rare rebuttal of Mr Trump, who has repeatedly blamed the previous administration for his coronavirus response failings, the Democrat alluded to the president’s denialist attitude of the pandemic being comparable to his actions on the climate.
Mr Obama said on Twitter: “We’ve seen all too terribly the consequences of those who denied warnings of a pandemic. We can’t afford any more consequences of climate denial.
“All of us, especially young people, have to demand better of our government at every level and vote this fall.”
Under the Trump administration’s changes to the 2012 regulations, US automakers would be able to produce vehicles with lower fuel efficiency.
That will see the fuel economy and emission efficiency standards increase by 1.5 per cent annually, rather than the approximately 5 per cent increases in the 2012 rule.
According to New York Times analysis, the amendments will see each car add a billion tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere over its lifetime, when compared to the Obama-era regulations.
The deregulation is set to create a legal battle, as California and 22 other states prepare to challenge the move.
Democrats aired concerns about the timing of the announcement, which could be implemented as soon as late spring.
Senator Tom Carper said the rule “will lead to dirtier air at a time when our country is working around the clock to respond to a respiratory pandemic whose effects may be exacerbated by air pollution.”
The Delaware senator was not the only person to join Mr Obama in comparing the coronavirus crisis to the climate crisis.
Earlier this week, University of Cumbria professor Jem Bendell told Bloomberg that “The fallout from COVID-19 feels like a dress rehearsal for the kind of collapse that climate change threatens . . . this crisis reveals how fragile our current way of life has become.”
Whilst Mr Trump’s deregulations are expected to provide a boost for oil producers, the president claimed that his deregulations would save lives, reduce costs for consumers, and protect the environment.
He said on Twitter: “Engines would run smoother. Positive impact on the environment! Foolish executives!”