Well, Trump, the authoritarian alien, did it.
In one way it was not surprising given the speculations increasing speculations in the media that Trump would withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. But I, at least, found it at least a little surprising given the array of forces, institutions, corporations, influential individuals, and generally the whole rest of the world advising, pleading, cajoling, even threatening our President. In the end, he said, in one blogger’s words, fuck you to the entire planet. We are now in the good company of only two other nations to reject the Paris agreement: Nicaragua and Syria. (Nicaragua didn’t sign on because implementation was voluntary and we are participants in Syria’s civil war.)
Elizabeth Kolbert, a staff writer at The New Yorker and 2015 Pulitzer Prize winner for general nonfiction (“The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History”), bids Au Revoir as Trump Exits the Paris Climate Agreement. Following are snippets from her analysis.
After milking the fate of the planet for maximum drama, Donald Trump announced today that the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris climate accord. To reach this decision, the President had to dismiss decades’ worth of research by the country’s most prestigious scientific organizations. He needed to resist pleas from the U.S.’s staunchest allies; ignore appeals from many of its largest corporations, including ExxonMobil; and disregard the counsel of his Secretary of State. All this for, well, what? To shore up his base on the coal-hugging right?
“Analysis: telling literally every other country in the world to fuck off will probably create problems down the road,” David Roberts, who blogs about climate policy for Vox, tweeted, as the news of the move began to leak out. But, if Trump’s decision is evidently wrongheaded, it’s also possible that it won’t make all that much difference. This is in part because the U.S. had already effectively exited the agreement. In part it’s because just about everybody outside the Trump Administration seems to understand that the U.S. is making a world-historical mistake.
If for no other reason, I would have thought that Trump, the self-proclaimed master deal maker and wealthy businessman, would have understood that withdrawing the US from the Paris agreement would be bad for business.
… The Trump Administration is leaving the energy technologies of the future to other countries to develop, and many nations see an economic opportunity. As the headline of a recent post on Foreign Policy’s Web site put it,“If Trump Dumps the Paris Accord, China Will Rule the Energy Future.” It is telling that several of the U.S.’s largest tech companies, including Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Intel, signed an open letter to Trump, urging him to “keep the United States in the Paris Agreement.” The letter states, “By expanding markets for innovative clean technologies, the agreement generates jobs and economic growth.” On Tuesday, Apple’s chief executive, Tim Cook, reportedly put in a call to the President, urging him to remain in the agreement.
In another open letter to the President, which ran as a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal, the heads of thirty other mammoth companies, including 3M, Cargill, Bank of America, and Morgan Stanley, wrote to express their “strong support for the CUnited States remaining in the Paris Climate Agreement.” The C.E.O.s said that they were concerned about the “strong potential for negative trade implications if the United States exits from the Paris Agreement.”
I am reminded of the words of a former Arizona State Senator directed to a group of businessmen lobbying at the state capitol: “We don’t need you any more.” That’s what Trump told 30 yuge corporations and the largest tech companies. What authoritarian arrogance.
Greg Sargent at the Washington Post/Plum Line anticipated what Trump was going to do and laid the blame squarely on the GOP in Trump is about to do something terrible and destructive. The GOP must own the consequences.. Snippets follow.
… the story does not end [with Trump’s action] — far from it. There will likely be a window of several years before our withdrawal takes effect — and paradoxically, some of the consequences of our pending exit from this 195-country accord could begin to take hold in the interim. Which means it is not totally outlandish to imagine that, if the blowback is severe enough, Trump could come under great pressure to reverse his decision. He almost certainly won’t, but at a minimum, those who care about the Paris deal — and international engagement more generally — can do everything possible to clarify those consequences to the public and ensure that Trump and Republicans own them.
As CNN reports this morning, the deal stipulates that countries can’t withdraw until three years after the deal took hold, plus a one-year notice period, which means even if Trump pulls us out, that won’t take effect until late in 2020. It’s possible that Trump could pull us out in only one year, by withdrawing the United State from the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, an international treaty to combat global warming that provides the Paris deal’s underpinnings. But that would be a truly drastic step — it was signed by former Republican president George H.W. Bush and overwhelmingly ratified by both parties in the Senate. So it’s likely several years will pass before our exit is formal.
There most certainly will be economic and diplomatic consequences.
As Eric Roston argues, pulling out could send a discouraging signal to domestic energy innovators and undermine the United States’ economic future. Roston notes that clean energy “may become the greatest opportunity for wealth creation of the 21st century,” and a “climate-renegade U.S. will only empower and encourage China, Europe, India, and virtually everyone else to focus on these increasingly profitable technologies and markets.” Pulling out could undermine our alliances and the prospects for cooperation on multiple other fronts.
It is perfectly plausible that there could be serious diplomatic consequences and scalding criticism from the business community. Leading companies are making a final pitch to Trump to remain, arguing that pulling out could harm the economy and weaken the United States’ global standing. David Doniger, director of the climate program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, suggested a scenario along these lines in an email to me:
Trump is underestimating the political and diplomatic blowback if he withdraws from Paris. The business community is against withdrawal. A majority of Americans are against withdrawal. If Trump sticks his finger in every other foreign leaders’ eye on Paris, who will lift a finger for him when he wants something from them? On top of the recent trip, Trump will have squandered more U.S. influence and power in two weeks than any other president. A Paris withdrawal wouldn’t take effect for years, so there’d be time for the next president to reverse it. Who knows, even Trump could see the magnitude of his mistake and call off the exit.
This raises an important point: If we do see these consequences, they should be tattooed on Republicans. Because, broadly speaking, what we’re seeing now isn’t just Trump’s doing. It’s also the doing of the GOP. While Trump has been most visibly crazy in his assertions that climate change is a hoax, many Republicans have spent years doing a careful little dance in which they avoided fully conceding the anthropogenic global warming threat in the least-crazy-seeming way possible, by claiming, for instance, that “I’m not a scientist,” so you know, who knows whether it’s something to seriously worry about? It has been forgotten, but in 2015, Mitch McConnell launched a crafty plan to get GOP governors to challenge Obama’s climate policies for the explicit purpose of making it harder for the United Stats to meet its commitments to the Paris deal, thus discouraging other countries from participating.
Only a handful of Republican senators — such as Bob Corker, Susan Collins and Lindsey Graham — have called on Trump to remain in the accord. … If we do see serious diplomatic consequences emanating from Trump’s withdrawal from Paris, you’d think such Republicans — and here’s an insane idea, perhaps a few more — would raise their voices and condemn the decision, or even call on him to reconsider. If not, Republicans should own the consequences, and own them they must.
John Cassidy (New Yorker) picks apart Trump’s “maniacal” speech this afternoon (Thursday) in Donald Trump’s “screw you” to the world.
In writing the speech that Trump delivered on Thursday, Bannon—or Stephen Miller, or whoever composed it—gave free rein to Trump’s maniacal, zero-sum view of the world. The Paris accord wasn’t portrayed as the well-meaning, nonbinding, and, in many ways, modest deal that Barack Obama agreed to join in 2015. Trump spoke of it as if it were an urgent threat to the economic livelihood of god-fearing Americans. “Therefore, in order to fulfill my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw,” Trump said.
He could have left it there, but he didn’t. This was to be a lengthy repudiation of environmentalists, and a paean to the coal miners and other hardhats whom the globalists had trampled on. It was a blowback to those who thought, when Trump declined to pull the United States of out of nafta, that the globalists inside his Administration—the Gary Cohns and Rex Tillersons—had neutered the nationalistic America Firsters. And, above all, the speech was a “screw you” to the world beyond America’s borders—to the Macrons and Merkels who had pleaded with the President in vain not to take this step.
Cassidy has lots more to say about the speech so do check it out.
Wired.com reports on the reactions of the American business community.
From Facebook to Wal-Mart and now even Exxon (until recently helmed by Trump’s Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson), businesses increasingly view sustainability as critical to their bottom lines. “I don’t think this is going to diminish by one iota the commitment by the private sector in the US to do what makes sense from a business standpoint and from an environmental standpoint,” says John Holdren, President Obama’s former senior advisor on science and technology.
The tech industry has naturally been out front on this issue. Facebook’s data centers, those energy-gulping engines of the knowledge economy, are now powered by 100 percent clean and renewable wind energy. The company aims to power all of its operations with at least 50 percent clean and renewable energy by next year. Facebook also negotiates renewable energy tariffs on behalf of itself and other businesses and has open sourced its data center designs for other tech companies to build atop. Meanwhile, Google expects to run its entire global operation, including data centers, on 100 percent renewable energy this year. The new Apple Park is already running on 100 percent renewable energy. Last year alone, Apple reduced its carbon emissions by nearly 585,000 metric tons.
And while President Trump framed this decision as an effort to protect American workers, Jeff Immelt, chairman and CEO of General Electric, one of the top employers in the country, was among the loudest voices advocating to stay in.
“As a company we think that climate change is real,” Immelt recently told students at Georgetown University adding that the withdrawal is “not going to change one thing that we do regarding energy efficiency…and I think all business is going to feel the same way.”
But the private sector’s commitment to sustainability extends far beyond tech. In April, Walmart announced its plan to remove one gigaton of emissions from its supply chain by 2030, the equivalent of taking 211 million cars off the road for a year. And just this week, Exxon shareholders overwhelmingly voted in favor of the company sharing more transparent information about the impact of climate change on its business.
“The irony of all the president’s posturing is that on the economics of this issue, the train has already left the station,” says Brian Deese, a former senior advisor to President Obama and current senior fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School.
This one says it all, almost all anyway.
Following the President’s address, [Tesla’s Elon] Musk announced he is leaving the White House’s advisory councils, despite previously defending his decision to work with the White House.
This post would be less than complete without closing the circle with my title. I am going to let Andy Borowitz, the New Yorker satirist, do that for me in Calling earth a “loser”, Trump vows to make better deal with a new planet.
WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—In a dramatic announcement from the White House Rose Garden on Thursday, Donald J. Trump pronounced the planet Earth a “loser” and vowed to make a better deal with a new planet.
“Earth is a terrible, very bad planet,” he told the White House press corps. “It’s maybe the worst planet in the solar system, and it’s far from the biggest.”
Trump blasted former President Barack Obama for signing deals that committed the United States to remain on the planet Earth indefinitely. “Obama is almost as big a loser as Earth,” Trump said. “If Obama was a planet, guess what planet he’d be? That’s right: Earth.”
When asked which planet he would make a new deal with, Trump offered few specifics, saying only, “The solar system has millions of terrific planets, and they’re all better than Earth, which is a sick, failing loser.”
Trump’s remarks drew a strong response from one of the United States’ nato allies, Germany’s Angela Merkel. “I strongly support Donald Trump leaving the planet Earth,” she said.
And so do I. Now that would be a job-creator. Think of all the scientists who would line up to work on a new NASA initiative to put into space a rocket carrying a payload commensurate with Trump’s ego.