Donald Trump has withdrawn from the 2016 Paris Agreement that were designed to reduce and/or mitigate pollutants in the atmosphere. 195 other countries, including China, signed onto this pact. The exit of the US could be detrimental to that pact and cause China, one of the chief polluters in the world, to also bow out of the historic concessions they made in 2015. This was a multilateral agreement made for the good of all the earth and its inhabitants. Trump is now poised to withdraw for the benefit of a few thousand.
Trump is making good on a promise to the dying coal industry at the expense of the world and American credibility abroad. In a supposed effort to save coal jobs that is being praised by the Attorneys General of nine coal producing states, Trump does nothing but prolong the inevitable. With sources such as fossil fuels and natural gas as well as new mining technology, the coal industry simply cannot compete. Were Republicans not dependent on constituents in coal country, they would talk about letting it die in the name of capitalism. Instead, they need to maintain their base at the expense of the world.
The whole point of the agreement was to keep the global temperature down. It was self-regulated, that is every individual state would be responsible of meeting their own agreed targets of emissions. The effects of rising global temperatures cannot be disputed; we are experiencing more than simply a bad year for weather. The constant fluctuations in global temperature, specifically the rising temperature to three degrees Celsius, affects weather patterns the world over causing droughts, floods, massive storms, and other natural disasters. The $100 billion a year pledged to efforts reducing global temperature levels is a pittance when you consider that the US spent about $60 billion in the immediate aftermath of Katrina and about another $60 billion after Sandy and a total of $110 billion for all of 2012. If the US is going to spend about as much on clean up as it would on prevention, then the most cost effective measure is to put more money into prevention.
The Trump plan seems to be akin to solving the problem of inadequate body armor with increased recruitment; sure it costs the same and loses more lives, but at least you can keep the coal industry’s 76,000–that is fewer employees than Arby’s–jobs afloat. This is even more an egregious fidelity to partisan pandering when you consider that jobs in the renewable energy sector not only continue to grow beyond the approximately 3 million it is now, but are predicted to shrink if the US leaves the agreement.
In Virginia, the solar power industry has gained significant traction. Major power companies are adding more and more jobs to economy, as much as 50,000 over the next 10 years. Additionally, the rise of solar energy could save customers of just one Virginia power company approximately $1.5 billion and lead to less reliance on oil and natural gas extraction to meet our energy needs.
So to save a dying industry, Trump is willing to sacrifice even more American jobs in a fast growing and profitable area of the energy sector, and hurt our image and interests abroad.
When China becomes a world leader in pollution to environmental conservation in one move, then the leadership of the US has been sorely affected. While in the agreement, we have the ability to influence it from within and work for our interests. Outside of the agreement, we join Syrian and Nicaragua–the former could not due to Civil War and the latter would not because the agreement had no punitive measures for non-compliance–and allow China, the world’s largest polluter and second largest economy, to dominate the conversation. This will also affect US trade as the accords would dictate the economic activity of literally every country we trade with, except Nicaragua. Add the fact that China would be dominating the conversations concerning the agreement in the future, and the US opens yet another way that China can undermine US economic interests. If China’s influence is not worrying, then Russia’s should be. Even if you want to argue that China has no interest in undermining the US economy, Russia certainly does. With the Russians party to the accord and the US absent, they can pressure our European allies into situations that could even undermine the strength of NATO. The US cannot abandon her allies, militarily or economically. Instead, the US needs to provide quality leadership in environmental protection that only the largest economy and second largest polluter can provide. Such leadership can undermine Chinese and Russian efforts to strong arm our allies in Europe and the Pacific, ensuring that the US stands by her word and stands by her friends.
President Trump has deliberated on this issue and failed miserably. There are people in his cabinet who support the agreement. There are people in Congress, Democrat and Republican, who support the agreement. Make your voices heard, for American workers, for American leadership, and for the Earth!