Politics Trumps Planet

Politics Trumps Planet 

President Trump's withdrawal from the Paris Climate agreement, along with his avowed plan to "negotiate a better deal" is much like a child throwing out all their birthday presents while demanding more. 

  1. The agreement is not a binding treaty.
    It calls on countries to make voluntary national pledges to reduce emissions and provide periodic updates on their progress.The United States created our own plan, a national climate action plan (INDC) which we have met or exceeded. How we "renegotiate" a better deal than the one we set for ourselves is something of a mystery.
  2. The current Congress has stopped payments.
    President Obama's administration funded $1 Billion of a proposed $3 Billion contribution.
  3. Brought many nations to the table.
    The previous lack of participation by counties such as China, had been a major stumbling block for the US, as we did not want to agree on targets that would not be enforced by he world's leading carbon emitters.
  4. China is meeting targets.
    The administration defended President Trump's move by arguing that the Paris Agreement is “unfair” because large polluting countries such as India and China are not required to do anything until 2030. However, China, partly as they stop building and phase out their coal power production, is seen to be on target to exceed their INDC.
  5. US voters like the agreement.
    In a survey of registered voters conducted just weeks after the 2016 election, 69 percent said that the United States should participate in the agreement. This figure included 86 percent of Democrats, 61 percent of Independents, and 51 percent of Republicans. The surveyed voters however were of the opinion that the United States should reduce its greenhouse gas emissions regardless of what other countries do.

For many business as well as nations, changing climate is trumped by the need for more efficient energy and transportation, as well as increasing water quality and availability, and improving our degrading farmlands. People will continue to need to eat food and drink water. Increasingly they also need to power lights and communication devices, along with the machines that make things that we need to survive. Actions that unite the world in addressing these basic concerns are fundamental to the long term plan for addressing the conditions that threaten the safety of us all. 

What Business Leaders have to say about the withdrawal

Business Leaders like Elon Musk, the Tesla and SpaceX CEO and one of President Trump's advisory councils, had said that if the President decided to go through with this withdrawal decision, he will have no choice but to depart the councils. Apple CEO Tim Cook had also tried his bit to convince ​the President to keep US in the agreement. 

Bob Perciasepe President, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions

Bob Perciasepe, President, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions 

The President’s decision reflects a fundamental misreading of the economic stakes.

As many of America’s leading companies made clear in full-page ads urging the president to stay in Paris, climate change poses significant economic risks, while climate solutions present enormous economic opportunities. The U.S. clean energy economy is expanding 12 times faster than the economy as a whole, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs. Weakening the U.S. effort and abandoning the Paris Agreement will handicap U.S. companies in rapidly expanding clean energy markets and could expose them to retaliatory trade measures......Fortunately, in the absence of federal leadership, we can count on cities, states, and businesses to continue leading the U.S. climate effort. With U.S. emissions at a 25-year low, there is strong momentum toward continued reductions....It is also fortunate that other nations remain so strongly committed to the Paris Agreement and to doing their part in the global climate effort. The door will remain open to the U.S. to rejoin the agreement, hopefully with a renewed commitment to doing its fair share.

Jeff McDermott

Jeff McDermott, Managing Partner, Greentech Capital Advisors

Pulling out of the Paris Agreement means the country won’t have to reduce its carbon emissions, which means it won’t have to invest in new wind, solar, or energy-efficiency technologies.

But those technologies are where the job growth is. Solar jobs—which require lots of people to put panels on roofs—grew 25% last year, while wind jobs grew 32%, according to the U.S. Department of Energy's 2017 U.S. Energy and Employment Report. Those two industries now employ nearly a half million Americans. Coal mining is mostly done by machine, and now employs just 74,000 people, a decline of 39% from 2009. Because coal mining is largely mechanized, those jobs are not coming back even if we burn more coal. Wind and solar are where the jobs are, and if we don’t have to reduce emissions, they won’t grow as fast. 

Brad Smith

Brad Smith, President of Microsoft Corp.

We believe that continued U.S. participation benefits U.S. businesses and the economy in important and multiple ways. 

We remain steadfastly committed to the sustainability, carbon and energy goals that we have set as a company and to the Paris Agreement’s ultimate success. Our experience shows us that these investments and innovations are good for our planet, our company, our customers and the economy.

Stuart Braman, Fossil Free Index

Stuart Braman, CEO, Fossil Free Indexes

By ignoring this growth, and the threats to human safety and security that extreme weather events are posing every day, the mere announcement of withdrawal from the Paris agreement shows an abdication of responsibility and a disregard of economic trends, scientific research, and, quite frankly, reason. 

There is no question that a US reversal with respect to Paris will slow down the policy changes, but successful businesses will remain attuned to economic trends, which continue to point to the acceleration in growth of renewable energy sources. We can only assume that the president’s decision to stay the course on this campaign promise is motivated by politics alone. But this rigid stance comes at an enormous cost in terms of economic capital and US leadership on carbon emissions, not to mention the potential human toll that an acceleration in global warming could cause.

Duncan Meisel, 350.org

Duncan Meisel of 350.org 

Donald Trump made one of the most dishonest and immoral speeches by an American President ever, withdrawing from the Paris Agreement and putting the profits of fossil fuel billionaires ahead of every other person on the planet.

The costs of climate change in terms of lives, homes and the economy are staggering. The fossil fuel industry contributes to millions of deaths a year. Meanwhile, the benefits of action are so clear: in the US, more people work in renewables than coal, oil and gas combined, 10 million people are working in renewables worldwide, and cutting carbon pollution will give millions more a chance to avoid sickness or early death.

The Paris Climate Change Accord

The Paris Agreement or Paris climate change accord, is an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) dealing with greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance starting in the year 2020. The language of the agreement was negotiated by representatives of 196 parties at the 21st Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC in Paris and adopted by consensus on 12 December 2015.  The Paris Agreement entered into force on 4 November 2016, with the prescribed minimum of 55 Parties depositing their instruments of ratification, acceptance or approval to the Convention, accounting in total for (at least) an estimated 55 % of the total global greenhouse gas emissions. As of May 2017, 195 UNFCCC members had signed the agreement, 148 of which, including the US,  had ratified it. On June 1, 2017, President Trump withdrew US from the agreement.  ​

The Paris Accord aimed to significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change by the following measures 

  • To pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels;
  • Increasing the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development, in a manner that does not threaten food production;
  • Making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development.

The Paris deal is the world's first comprehensive climate agreement and has been described as an incentive for and driver of fossil fuel divestment. In the Paris Agreement, each country determines, plans and regularly reports its own contribution it should make in order to mitigate global warming.