Contributed by Joe Montero
As had been expected, Donald Trump has just announced that the United States will be pulling out of the 2105 Paris Climate Agreement.
He told the media in the White House Rose Garden that the agreement disadvantaged the United States, to the benefit of other countries.
‘This agreement is less about the climate and more about other countries gaining a financial advantage over the United States,’ Trump said.
The deal is a ‘massive redistribution of United States wealth to other countries,’ he added.
The spin was towards the protection of American industries and jobs.
Curiously, he did not deny that climate warming is a reality. But he did suggest that the Paris Agreement was bad for the environment. He knocked it, because it is non-binding and imposes “no meaningful obligations on the world’s leading polluters”.
By taking this step, the United States is out of accord with the rest of the world. The only two other countries to have refused to sign up to Paris are Nicaragua and Syria, which is in a war situation. There will undoubtedly be fallout, which could well lead to a lowering of the global political stature of the United States.
The European union, China and India have already pledged to forge ahead with or without the United States. In this scenario, it is conceivable that these countries may now move beyond Paris, which has been criticised by others, as not being far reaching enough, nor impose sufficient obligations on the signatory countries.
But it remains that the United Sates is presently the number two polluter. Its withdrawal is significant, especially when scientists are suggesting that without serious action, global average temperatures are set to rise by more than 2 C by the end of the century.
A long standing sticking point has bee nthe American objection to giving extra time to developing countries to cut emissions. The response is that the major industrial nations have over time been the main creators of the problem. This is undeniable. Developing nations need assistance to modernise their economies to enable them to make their transitions to a cleaner future.
The Trump administration cares little for this and is likely to remove the pledged $3 billion to of promised assistance money, while focusing on protecting its status as a world economic power. The limitations of the Paris agreement exist because the rest of the world compromised to meet American demands for a minimalist approach.
It is a bit rich that Trump should now complain that Paris does not go far enough, when the shortcomings of Paris are the result of compromise by the rest of the world to get the United States on the table. It suggests that the Trump protest is less than sincere.
Trump has vowed to increase coal production.
The United Nations estimates that the U.S. stands to lose jobs in the rapidly growing clean energy industry ― estimated to be worth $6 trillion by 2030 ― to Europe, India and China. Countries that tax emissions may put tariffs on American-made imports.
The withdrawal gives China the high moral ground, as that country’s leader President Xi Jinping last month announced a $900 billion fund to invest in infrastructure and clean energy projects.
Under the deal, a signatory cannot not withdraw until November 2019 and the process can take up to 4 years to complete. This is cold comfort, when there are no obstacles to reneging on commitments made.
Trump has already ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to review the Clean Power Plan and remove restrictions faced by the energy industry.
Nevertheless, the Trump move has angered sections of those opposed to curbing emissions, by the way in which it has been done. They see that political and legal ammunition has been handed to environmentalists.
Officials of some major companies, including Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell pleaded with the president to stay in the deal. This is notable, because these companies have for decades bankrolled a Big Tobacco-style disinformation campaign to discredit the threat of global warming.