In an apparent attempt to please his voter base, President Donald Trump pulled out the United States from the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and turned America from the leader of the free world to a potential pariah in the global community, particularly in the field of climate change.
Trump has been found lacking by many of his supporters in many of his campaign promises, and this time he was determined to please his shrinking stream of supporters, never mind what his action would do to the future of this country and that of the entire planet.
He has promised change and although he vows to “make America great again,” with the changes he has been proposing, the only thing consistent with his proposed changes is that they all seek to reverse the policies and programs that former President Obama has instituted in his eight years in office.
In pursuit of his “America First” policy, he pulled out of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that would establish a free trade zone among 12 Pacific nations, threatened to pull out of the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with neighbors Canada and Mexico, threatened to withdraw financial support to and refused to affirm the mutual defense provision of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and is considering reducing American commitment to the United Nations.
Foreign relations expert Max Boot wrote in a Los Angeles Times article that Trump’s isolationist policy is actually a “me-first policy.” Boot said Trump sees every international treaty as a racket and every alliance as a rip-off. “But by destroying the foundations of the international order that the U.S. built, he risks destroying the unprecedented power and wealth we have accumulated since 1945,” Boot wrote.
He added: “If the U.S. pursues a “me first” policy, then every country in the world will do the same — and the result will be international lawlessness. Predatory states such as Iran, Russia and China will do well in the resulting chaos, while our allies — if we have any left — will suffer.”
All Trump’s moves, as pointed out by another political analyst, were meant to portray him as a leader who is “standing up for Americans against the world,” which makes his comparisons with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte even more compelling. Duterte has also questioned the effectivity of the UN, slammed the European Union, threatened to sever ties with the US, and in the firs month of his term, said his government would not honor the Paris Agreement for the very same reasons Trump opposed it.
Duterte called the landmark climate change accord “stupid” and “absurd” because, he said, it was unfair that developed nations who caused much of the current level of global warning would now want developing countries such as the Philippines to contain their carbon emissions to certain levels.
“We have not reached the age of industrialization. We’re now going into it. But you are trying to stymie (our growth) with an agreement that says you can only go up to here,” he continued. “That’s stupid. I will not honor that.”
When an unnamed ambassador reminded him that the Philippines was a signatory to the agreement, Duterte replied: “That was not my signature. It’s not mine.”
To his credit, Duterte eventually listened to reason, signed the agreement and sent the document to the Senate last March, which ratified it unanimously within a few days, preventing the Philippines from becoming one of only three nations to reject the Paris accord, which has been signed and ratified by 195 nations, which all agreed to curb greenhouse gas emissions to limit the impact of global change on the planet.
The only two other countries to reject it are Nicaragua, which wanted a stronger commitment to curb carbon emissions, and Syria, which is torn by civil strife and couldn’t worry about climate change at this time.
And now, the United States, which accounts for about 14 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions next only to China’s 30 percent, has become the third nation to refuse to cooperate with the entire world to save the planet and make it more livable for future generations. Based on cumulative emissions since 1850, the United States is first with 29 percent of the total, then the EU with 27 percent, and finally China and Russia with eight percent each.
These science facts make it even more compelling for the United States to take the responsibility to lead, or at least join the global movement to curb carbon emissions and slow down global warming.
In rejecting the agreement, Trump said: “The Paris climate accord is simply the latest example of Washington entering into an agreement that disadvantages the United States to the exclusive benefit of other countries, leaving American workers…and taxpayers to absorb the cost in terms of lost jobs, lower wages, shuttered factories, and vastly diminished economic production.”
But economists and political analysts said that leaving the accord will neither bring back jobs nor help the taxpayer, but will instead hurt the United States and the world.
Trump insists, as he had declared of other treaties, trade agreements and alliances from which he has or has threatened to pull out, that the Paris accord is unfair to the US. Political observers point out that the agreement is non-binding and that each signatory country is allowed to determine its own target level of reduction in carbon emissions. How can it be unfair?
Instead of totally withdrawing from the accord, all Trump had to do was reduce the target set by Obama, who pledged to cut carbon emissions in the US by 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025. In fact, Trump had already started the process of reducing this target through an executive order he signed in March, which according to a study, would lower the reductions to just 15 to 19 percent from the 2005 levels by 2025. Why pull out from the accord then?
Trump claims that Americans have lost jobs and the US economy has suffered because of stringent environmental regulations over the past years. But economic data have shown that in the past several years the coal mining industry has created only 70 jobs compared to, for example, the solar energy sector which now employs twice as much as the coal industry. On the contrary, the renewable energy sector has been seen as a major contributor to the US economy.
Trump said he had to withdraw from the Paris accord “in order to fulfill my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens.” But the President was only protecting the interest of a few coal miners that, like him, blame what US Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruit ironically calls “climate exaggerators.”
Trump can’t claim to protect the interest of the American people because, unlike him who said during the campaign that climate change was a hoax, according to a Gallup poll nearly two-thirds of Americans are worried about climate change and according to the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, almost 70 percent of Americans wanted to stay in the agreement, including half of Trump voters.
Big businesses affected by carbon emission reductions, including PG&E, National Grid, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon-Mobil, BP, Shell, General Motors, General Electric and even some of the largest coal producers, such as Arch Coal, Cloud Peak Energy, and Peabody Energy, informed the president that they wanted the United States to stay in the agreement. But he just wouldn’t listen.
Almost everybody who were affected by recent weather disturbances all over the world are one in saying they have not experienced such storms and blizzards in years, and yet some are unable to relate these to global warming.
In March 2009, the world’s foremost experts on global warming gathered in an emergency meeting in Copenhagen to warn politicians to act now to minimize the impact of what they described could be ‘irreversible’ climate shifts and hopefully save a world that they said was “on the brink.”
The scientists were concerned that any significant delay in reducing emissions would lead to “a range of tipping points” that would make it significantly more difficult to reduce greenhouse gas levels.
The 2,500 scientists from 80 countries who attended the conference warned in their statement: “There is no excuse for inaction.”
Trump just wouldn’t listen.