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Credit: Julio Sosa

The election of 1968 Wharton graduate Donald Trump will undoubtedly spark changes across the country — but it could be particularly meaningful for energy conservation efforts.

Alan Hughes, professor of practice at PennDesign and director of the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy, recently weighed in about what the election of Donald Trump might mean for the energy industry.

StateImpact, a NPR reporting project, recently noted that the natural gas industry may see greater production and fewer restrictions following Trump’s stunning victory. The greatest danger to present energy conservation efforts, however, would concern the fate of the Clean Power Plan and its relation to the larger Paris Agreement.

“The natural gas industry would thrive on weaker standards for environmental protection,” Hughes said.

Right now, one of the greatest fears of the natural gas industry is the Clean Power Plan. The Clean Power Plan, a policy created by the Environmental Protection Agency in June 2014, sets a national limit on the emission of carbon pollution from power plants.

More than just an initiative to serve American energy conservation goals, the Clean Power Plan was a part of the American pledge to a larger environmental pact, the Paris Agreement. The historic Paris Agreement was reached between 195 countries within the UN to curb greenhouse gas emissions. As of Nov. 2016, enough countries officially ratified the agreement for it to go into effect.

“The Paris Agreement differs from previous agreements and treaties in that it relies on bottom up reinforcement of good behavior to reach the goals of the UN,” Hughes said.

However, these successes could be short-lived, since Trump plans to withdraw the United States from the pact once he enters office.

More than just offsetting the progress made with the Paris Agreement, Trump could end and potentially reverse all the energy conservation efforts made by the Obama administration — which would thwart the proposed benefit of the Clean Power Plan.

“The very mechanisms that have allowed the Obama administration to achieve a number of important changes in energy system will allow Trump to stop and reverse them,” Hughes said.

Several experts have openly stated that Trump’s plan would be a move in the wrong direction.

“If those campaign promises are kept, this is a very troubling road we will be traveling,” said Lynda Farrell, executive director of the Pipeline Safety Coalition.

Still, it’s not necessarily clear as to how Trump’s policy will impact climate change.

“It’s too early to tell the impact of [Trump’s] actions, if there will be any,” said Fatih Birol, director of International Energy Agency.