Nel's New Day

June 5, 2017

U.S. Out of Paris Agreement: Make America Alone

Filed under: Climate change — trp2011 @ 10:00 PM
Tags: , , ,

Today is World Environment Day, and last week Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) announced to the world that he was abandoning the 194 other countries that had signed the Paris Agreement in an attempt to save the planet from climate warming:

“As of today, the United States will cease all implementation of the non-binding Paris accord and the draconian financial and economic burdens the agreement imposes on our country. This includes ending the implementation of the nationally determined contribution and, very importantly, the Green Climate Fund which is costing the United States a vast fortune.”

The decision followed his appointment of a climate denier to head up the Environmental Protection Agency, destruction of clean water and air regulations, and policies to give as much of the nation’s assets as possible to the wealthy—preferably himself.

The Paris Agreement is voluntary and not legally binding. DDT could have announced a shift in goals to a less ambitious plan. Backing out of the agreement will also require four years with the end on November 4, 2020, the day after the next presidential election. DDT tried to attract his base but alienated the world and unified millions of people to support action to slow climate change. Paris City Hall was just one of the “green” buildings around the world in solidarity against DDT’s announcement.

All DDT’s talk about being a “bad deal” for the nation is simply smoke and mirrors–misrepresentations of fossil fuel and employment reports, some of them from far-right groups to present a future dystopia of the U.S. Almost everything in his speech was false.

No matter what DDT claims, the shift to renewable energy and a low-carbon economy is “unstoppable.” President Obama stated, “The nations that remain in the Paris Agreement will be the nations that reap the benefits in jobs and industries created.” DDT is costing the nation a chance to benefit from jobs and economic growth from green technology in the future. For example, German Chancellor Angela Merkel just attended a ceremony for a new battery factory that would allow her country to become a leading supplier of electric car.

Slowing U.S. advanced energy market will put the nation’s companies at a massive competitive disadvantage. With no robust local market, people in the U.S. will buy energy technology in other countries. Reliance on fossil fuels instead of increasingly cheaper renewable energy will also force higher costs than competitors in the rest of the world. Air and water pollution costs the nation billions because of the health problems. Adopting clean energy would dramatically reduce health costs. Other countries may also require the U.S. to pay carbon-based taxes on any goods sold to members of the Paris Agreement—just about every country in the world at this time. Dropping out of the Paris Agreement has been called the worst thing for the American brand since the discovery of U.S. torture at Abu-Graib. Economically, it could be the worst thing since Bush lost trillions of dollars from his preemptive war against Afghanistan and Iraq.

The biggest loser in the decision to drop out of Paris Agreement is DDT himself. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell said about George W. Bush’s dumping the 1997 Kyoto climate treaty in 2002 “that everything the American president does has international repercussions.” Bush’s national security advisor called the decision “a self-inflicted wound.” DDT’s Paris Agreement decision is much worse, giving other countries greater leverage in international affairs. For example, Russia used the Kyoto decision to get Europe’s backing in the World Trade Organization. DDT has just handed world leadership over to China or any other country that occupies the vacuum left by the U.S. departure. As George Schultz, former Cabinet member for Reagan and Nixon, wrote: “The United States is far better off maintaining a seat at the head of the table rather than standing outside.”

DDT claimed that he took the U.S. from the Paris Agreement because he didn’t want the nation to be a laughingstock. He is already the object of ridicule throughout the world and now shows himself to be a petty little person. Some media sources claim that his decision came from France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, ridiculing DDT’s weak handshake. Paul Krugman called it “sheer spite” directed at Barack Obama, much like all other DDT decisions.

The safety of white supremacist Steve Bannon in the White House has been cemented; he and Scott Pruitt were the only advisers to back DDT’s decision. Apparently, “globalist” daughter and son-in-law, Ivanka and Jared Kushner, are out, and Bannon is in. Policy experts, business interests and environmental groups say it will hurt not only global efforts to address climate change but also U.S. standing in the world while doing little to revive the U.S. fossil fuel industry.

World Leaders:

France, Germany, and Italy issued a joint statement that the Paris Agreement cannot be renegotiated, despite DDT’s claim. Macron urged scientists to move to France where their talents can better serve humanity.

Former Mexico president, Vicente Fox Quesada, tweeted that Trump’s action “condemns this generation and those to come” and that “United States has stopped being the leader of the free world.” He also wrote to DDT, “You’re leaving a dark legacy just to satisfy your greediness. Today, you’ve surrendered the hopes and future of a nation.”

Business:

Big business, which might have formerly supported DDT’s anti-climate policies, are largely transinternational, giving them incentives for world-supported policies. Major corporations such as ExxonMobil, Shell and Wal-Mart have expressed support for the Paris Agreement. Over 60 percent of Exxon’s shareholders voted for the company to investigate how climate policies and changing consumer behavior will affect its assets. Tesla’s Elon Musk  and Disney CEO Robert Iger resigned as DDT advisers, and GE CEO, Jeff Immelt, tweeted: “Disappointed with today’s decision on the Paris Agreement. Climate change is real. Industry must now lead and not depend on government.”

DDT’s chief economic adviser, Gary Cohn, said that coal doesn’t “make that much sense anymore,” but that pushing renewables could make America “a manufacturing powerhouse.” Since DDT’s decision, Cohn is struggling to support DDT’s “broader economic agenda” but wouldn’t answer a question about whether he agreed with the decision.

Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman-Sachs and former Cohn colleague, sent his first tweet in the six years since he got his Twitter account: “Today’s decision is a setback for the environment and for the U.S.’s leadership position in the world.”

Media:

Even Fox network fought back when Chris Wallace answered Scott Pruitt’s assertion that China and India by saying “the reality is different from what the president said.” He added, “Aren’t you and the president protecting the horse and buggy business just as cars go online?” Wallace joined other talk show anchors such as ABC’s George Stephanopoulos by saying that Pruitt and DDT misinterpreted a Massachusetts Institute of Technology study.

Government Officials:

GOP governors such as Sam Brownback (KS) and John Kasich (OH) plan to continue their strong support of wind energy because of economic advantages. Wind power is saving the formerly coal state of Wyoming.

Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) tweeted: “As you can see, my office plant heard the news about the #ParisAgreement.”

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, in response of DDT’s using his city to justify his anti-climate decision: “Fact: Hillary Clinton received 80% of the vote in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh stands with the world & will follow Paris Agreement.”

Peduto set the tone for millions of businesses and people in the United States. Walmart plans 100-percent solar, and Google plans to run all data centers on renewable energy by the end of the year.

California, Washington, and New York, representing 20 percent of the nation’s GDP, have formed the United States Climate Alliance to include states committee to meeting emission reduction targets submitted to the Paris Agreement. Five more states, including two with GOP governors, have joined the group. California’s governor, Jerry Brown, plans to talk with China officials about merging a cap-and-trade program started in 2012 when he visits Asia this week. At this time, 27 percent of energy in California comes from renewable resources. Canada is also reaching out to U.S. governors to coordinate climate change work. Mayors of 187 cities representing 52 million Americans have vowed to uphold the commitment of the Paris Agreement. (Check to see if your city is here.)

A group of at least 30 mayors, three governors, 100 university presidents and chancellors, and 100 businesses is negotiating with the United Nations to have its submission with contributions to the Paris climate deal by other nations. At this time, there is no formal arrangement for this idea, but information from this group can be included in future reports on progress by Paris Agreement members. With the U.S. almost halfway to its goal, efforts from academia, business, and non-federal governments could make up the difference that DDT rejects.

On Monday, more than 1,000 companies and institutions, including more than a dozen Fortune 500 businesses, signed onto a statement, We Are Still In, with the commitment to meet the Paris targets. By then, a dozen states together representing the world’s third-largest economy were joined by other 200 cities committed to the Paris Agreement.

Forty-two years ago, the NY Daily News ran a headline on its cover, “Ford to City: Drop Dead,” after President Gerald Ford rejected loans to the city that was close to financial disaster. The cover has returned in a different context. Meanwhile DDT went golfing at one of his courses for the 22nd time in 19 weeks.

The best analysis of DDT’s position and speech is from the comedian John Oliver—very well worth watching!

December 12, 2015

GOP Tries to Destroy Planet

PARIS, FRANCE - NOVEMBER 29:  An artwork entitled 'One Heart One Tree' by artist Naziha Mestaoui is displayed on the Eiffel tower covered by a green visual forest, as part of the organisation of the Conference on Climate Change COP21 on November 29 in Paris, France. The climate change conference COP21 will gather 193 countries in Paris from November 30 to December 11, 2015.  (Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images)

PARIS, FRANCE – NOVEMBER 29: An artwork entitled ‘One Heart One Tree’ by artist Naziha Mestaoui is displayed on the Eiffel tower covered by a green visual forest, as part of the organisation of the Conference on Climate Change COP21 on November 29 in Paris, France. The climate change conference COP21 will gather 193 countries in Paris from November 30 to December 11, 2015. (Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images)

On the same day that 24 Democrats in the House joined all the Republicans in passing a bill to block trade deals from cutting greenhouse emissions, 186 countries signed off on the Paris agreement to leave most of the world’s fossil fuels unburned to save the planet. The countries unanimously agreed to an ongoing effort of increasingly deeper emissions reductions aimed at keeping total warming “to well below 2°C [3.6°F] above preindustrial levels.” After two weeks of negotiations, parties to the agreement also promise “to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change.” In addition, the agreement calls for developed countries to raise at least $100 billion annually in order to assist developing countries that suffer irreparable damage from climate change but have done little to cause it.

The treaty was adopted by “consensus” and won’t go into effect until 55 countries ratify or approve it. The agreement calls for a signature ceremony in April 2016 and asks that the U.N. Secretary-General keep the agreement open for signing until April 2017.Two important countries are China and the U.S. which respectively account for 24 percent and 14 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions. Two-thirds of the U.S. Senate must sign off on a treaty before it can be ratified.

This agreement follows grassroots’ movements to protest Keystone XL pipeline, persuade institutions and individuals to disinvest in dirty energy while moving capital to cleaner energy, and push for a warming target of below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). This change will require every country to have zero net fossil fuel emissions by the end of the 21st century. As the graph indicates, global CO2 emissions have started to plateau.

Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Why all countries need to cooperate in saving the planet:

Temperatures in the Arctic are rising at twice the rate as the rest of the world which may cause one-fourth of Alaska’s permafrost to melt. Until the recent climate warming, the frozen soil has locked in over a trillion tons of carbon, more than twice as much carbon as in the atmosphere itself. The melting permafrost will boost CO2 levels higher in a feedback loop, causing rising seas, greater and more prolonged heat waves and droughts, and distorted weather patterns to thaw more permafrost and release even more CO2.

A major Greenland glacier in Greenland holding enough water to raise global sea levels by 20 inches is crumbling into the North Atlantic Ocean. From 2002 to 2014 the area of the glacier’s floating shelf shrank by 95 percent; it’s now losing 4.5 billion tons of ice a year. Rising air temperatures drive melting at the top of the glacier, and warming ocean currents erode the underside.

The historic Tangier Island off the Virginia coast just 90 miles from Washington, DC is disappearing. Inhabited for thousands of years, the three-mile-long island has lost over 65 percent of its landmass since 1850; at this rate of sea level rising, the island has 50 years left.

Parts of Louisiana are also disappearing into the Gulf Coast. This video shows how a football field of land is lost to rising sea levels every hour.

People may not be upset to lose Wall Street to sea levels rising (below), but these maps show all the displaced places. You may not want these to be lost to the oceans.

 

Wall Street 2wallstreet_4C_C

 

 

 

 

 

 

Researchers from more than 20 countries found that half of 28 weather extremes on all seven continents were influenced by climate change: 

  • Record heat in Europe, the Korean peninsula, northern China, and Australia.
  • Droughts in Syria and East Africa.
  • Record rains in New Zealand and France.
  •  Nepal’s extreme Himalayan snowstorm.
  • Flooding in southeastern Canada.
  • Hurricanes in Hawaii.
  • Hotter Pacific and Atlantic sea-surface temperatures.

Even the fossil fuel giant Exxon-Mobil publicly admits that “with no government action…average temperatures are likely to rise by 5 degrees Celsius, with rises of 6, 7 or even more quite possible.” After trying to cover up its part in climate change for the past 30 years,  the company openly states that emissions can’t be controlled by “free-market-driven solutions.” Exxon also endorses a comprehensive carbon tax, similar to the one proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), a Democratic presidential candidate.

Six years ago, a climate summit in Copenhagen failed to produce any results. Now, the United States GOP is “exceptional” in being the only major political party opposed to reversing the devastating climate warming despite that warning signs. Last year was the hottest year on record. Despite the panic and disdain shown by Republicans, the Paris agreement, unlike the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, will not be a fully legally binding treaty which would almost positively fail in the current GOP-controlled Congress. The United States never ratified the Kyoto Protocol.

Before the meetings in Paris, Republicans tried hard to scuttle the whole agreement by reaching out to foreign officials. Like Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and his work to undermine the agreement with Iran, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) challenged the right of the president to agree to a global agreement without permission from the Senate. McConnell’s energy aide Neil Chatterjee led Senate staff in telling foreign embassy representatives that the GOP will do everything they can to battle the climate agenda and that any agreement would not hold up with a Republican president. More about the GOP treasonous actions here.

U.S. ratification is highly unlikely (a serious understatement) because conservatives’ allegiance to the coal and oil industry, especially billionaires such as the Koch brothers, commit the GOP to block any efforts to protect the world. In the past, the GOP refused to enact policies to reverse climate change with the claim that no other country will follow the U.S.; now the GOP, now the majority party of Congress, is making the United States one of the countries refusing to take steps to save the planet.

The Paris agreement will shift trillions of dollars in capital investment away from conservative sugar daddies into cleaner technologies such as solar, wind, LED lighting, advanced batteries, and electric cars that emit far less harmful carbon pollution. The reverse in policy, however, will not completely stop existing impacts of climate change such as sea level rise, ocean acidification, extreme weather, and loss of agricultural lands similar to that of the 1930s Dust Bowl.

The deal is flawed—no timeline, voluntary controls on gas emission goals, and weak language on monitoring and verifying, for example. But it’s a beginning, a vital beginning. Unchecked climate change will adversely affect billions of people around the globe, threatening water and food supplies, development goals, public health and arable and habitable land.

Disasters are not confined to just the soon-to-be submerged island nation of Kiribati or the Maldive people losing 77 percent of their land by 2100. No one will be untouched by climate change: it has already caused the increasing conflicts in the Middle East that the GOP is using as collateral against the Democrats, the acceleration in ethnic violence, and the displacement of people creating havoc in the world.

A 2009 report called climate change the “biggest global-health threat of the 21st century,” causing foot shortages and deadly diseases. President Obama said, “Denying [climate change], or refusing to deal with it endangers our national security. It undermines the readiness of our forces.”  Presidential candidate Sanders calls climate change the greatest threat to national security. While the media concentrates on one of almost 400 mass shootings this year, the GOP is trying to kill the planet by denying science.

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