It happens that by withdrawing from the Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, instead of putting “America First” President Trump left American alone and behind.
The U.S., as represented by Trump, is now an international pariah bent on denying science and going full throttle back to the glory days of the coal industry.
The Paris Agreement, signed in 2015, was a voluntary non-binding agreement in which each country set its own CO2 emissions targets to keep the global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above what it was before the age of industrial production.
The U.S. pledged to reduce emission between 26 to28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.
In withdrawing, Trump misrepresented the agreement to tailor it to his nationalism and job promises to the coal states. The fact checkers had a field day.
Allegedly our sovereignty was at stake and it could expose the U.S. to “massive legal liability.” But it’s voluntary and non-binding. No foreign country has a say about what we do. We set our own targets. Accompanying text states clearly it doesn’t provide any basis for liability or compensation claims.
The cited 6.5 million jobs lost by 2040 was based on a questionable study designed to produce extreme results by using hypothetical regulation models without considering lower cost options, increased jobs from clean energy sources, or benefits of reduced CO2 emissions.
Trump said China and India could do what they want with coal while we can’t. There’s no specified actions, only emissions targets. We have the same flexibility as China and India. According to Climate Action Tracker, China and India are ahead of schedule in meeting their commitments.
He erroneously cited an outdated MIT study to say the agreement would make only a “tiny, tiny” difference. But MIT researchers now say their analysis shows the agreement could reduce global warming by nearly 1 degree celsius by 2100, a significant difference.
He says he’ll renegotiate a better deal. But there’s nothing to renegotiate and no one to negotiate with. Under the agreement we could have unilaterally changed our emissions target anyway.
Given Trump’s plans to dismantle CO2 and environmental regulations I doubt that staying in or getting out makes much difference in our future emissions reductions.
What we achieve will depend on efforts of states, companies, communities and individuals already committed to combating climate change. But falling short of our stated intent in the agreement means others will have to make up the difference by exceeding theirs, and they are acutely aware of that.
As a voluntary agreement, the value of Paris was in finding common cause and the commitment of each nation to do its part.
Trump just told the rest of the world to go ahead without us: we don’t need to sit with you on an issue we think is an international “hoax” and part of a “liberal elite” agenda. We join Syria and Nicaragua as the only countries not party to the agreement.
While we’re backtracking the rest of the world will be moving forward. The world looks at us differently now. This doesn’t help our economy or international relations. Other nations, like China, will fill the void and step forward with financial assistance and development of clean energy technology. We’re moving to the back of the pack while others will be taking the opportunity to increase their international influence and develop markets for the technologies of the future.