American exceptionalism of the worst kind – Trump dumps Paris Climate Agreement
Pr*sident Donald Trump—the man who lied about all the environmental awards he has received and vacillated between being a total numbskull on climate change and just another opportunist who bends with the wind as long as it doesn’t mean erecting turbines within sight of his golf courses—told the world Thursday what has been expected with trepidation since November 9: The U.S. is pulling out of the Paris climate agreement.
Given legal considerations, this ceding of U.S. leadership will take three years to complete. But the negative impacts have already begun.
From the White House Rose Garden Trump said that the United States would withdraw from the Paris agreement for the “well-being” of the American people, but begin negotiating a new deal right away that he claimed would be fairer to the U.S. Immediately, the U.S. will end its pledge to reduce carbon emissions and no longer contribute to the fund that helps developing nations deal with climate change.
The decision breaks with the precedent set, however imperfectly, by the previous four presidents, two Republicans and two Democrats. It could also spur other nations to abandon the agreement. That pact was designed with the goal of keeping average global temperatures from rising 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above the pre-industrial level by cutting greenhouse gas emissions. We’ve already seen a rise of 1.8 degrees.
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Navigating the diplomatic paths necessary to get 195 nations to sign the final Paris agreement in late 2015 was a signature achievement of President Barack Obama.
Of Trump’s opting out, Jim Tankersley at Vox wrote late Wednesday:
“It is a decision made for domestic political purposes that puts the livelihood and lives of millions of people in developing countries at risk,” says Trevor Houser, a former climate negotiator for President Barack Obama who is now a partner with the Rhodium Group. “This is a craven, symbolic political move without any direct benefits for the constituents he’s targeting.”
The Paris agreement is only a step toward the reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions that scientists roundly agree is necessary in order to reduce the most catastrophic risks of climate change. But it is a crucial step, won through years of diplomatic grunt work, including a sustained effort to rebuild American climate credibility that had been torched by the Bush administration.
In the audience in the Rose Garden Thursday afternoon, according to Politico, a cohort of foes of the climate pact appeared. Among them: Thomas Pyle, president of the American Energy Alliance, funded in the past by industrialists Charles and David Koch, Competitive Enterprise Institute Director Myron Ebell, who worked on transition efforts at the EPA, and members of CEI’s Center for Energy and Environment, plus several staff and the founder of the Heritage Foundation, several of whose resident “scholars” have promoted unscientific views of climate change.
Trump made clear that the world’s second largest emitter of greenhouse gases after China and its largest per capita emitter will leave action on climate change up to the 194 other nations that signed the Paris agreement and kiss goodbye to any climate-related leadership role for the United States.
The transformation of the world’s energy, agricultural, and transportation systems set into motion in the early 2ist Century is crucial if we are to have a prosperous and sustainable future. Trump and his coterie of science deniers and fossil-fuel profiteers have decided that such a future is not the direction they want to travel.
World leaders, environmental advocates, billionaires, more than 1,000 investors and major business leaders, prominent Democrats at the federal and state level, the occasional elected Republican, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and reportedly his own daughter Ivanka had urged Trump not to withdraw. Instead he took the advice of climate science deniers such as Scott Pruitt, the Environmental Protection Agency hater who runs the Environmental Protection Agency.
Ever since Trump took the oath of office, and especially because of the flurry of leaks and stories in the past couple of weeks, the widespread expectation has been that he would stick to his campaign promise to withdraw from the agreement, which he labeled “a very bad deal” for the United States. Given his plans to kill the carbon emissions-reducing Clean Power Plan, gut the EPA’s climate-related programs, and slash renewables research and development from the Department of Energy, it’s not hard to imagine what he thinks a good deal would be.
(Originally appeared at DailyKos.)