I should have been shocked by President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement. It was, after all, a politician keeping a campaign promise.
But I wasn’t.
Some found solace in the fact that Trump said he’d be open to renegotiate the deal.
Most of the world doesn’t seem to be in a negotiating mood. The people who spent six years working on the agreement say renegotiation is impossible once a country leaves the agreement. Under its terms, the earliest the U.S. could get out is 2020.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Sun Herald
“Apparently the White House has no understanding of how an international treaty works,” said Christiana Figueres, the former executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (a pact even Sen. Roger Wicker likes). “There is no such thing as withdrawing and then negotiating.”
The EU said it is willing to negotiate — with U.S. businesses and governors.
I’m not sure what Trump would renegotiate anyway. He has promised to use more coal, a major source of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Meanwhile, China, Trump’s foil in the climate treaty debate, has been using less.
Trump argues that under the Paris agreement, India and China wouldn’t have to do anything about their carbon dioxide emissions until 2030. India, too, has been reducing its reliance on coal. Last year, it canceled four “ultra mega power plants” that would have burned coal.
China isn’t letting this disaster go to waste.
Global Times, a tabloid as nationalist about China as Trump is about America, said our “selfishness and irresponsibility will be made clear to the world, crippling the country’s world leadership.”
In other words, Trump would not be negotiating from a position of strength.
It’s not that pulling out of the deal doesn’t have any fans, though.
Wicker signed a letter urging Trump to get out of the deal and said Friday: “I’m glad he initiated what our letter suggested: ‘Make a clean break from the Paris agreement.’”
A couple of years ago, Wicker voted against an amendment that said climate change is real, a stance he appears to have slightly softened.
“There is little evidence that the Paris agreement would significantly reduce the growth of global temperatures — or that it would substantially change the level of the seas,” he wrote as a counterpoint to a USA Today editorial criticizing Trump. His statement could be read as an admission that climate change is happening. A baby step.
Rep. Steven Palazzo voted to bar the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases a few years back and stepped up the attack this year by co-sponsoring a bill that would eliminate the agency altogether. He later said he didn’t really want to close it.
Sen. Thad Cochran voted against an amendment that said humans were contributing to climate change.
And there’s Robert Murray, one of the few people betting on coal’s resurgence. He pressed Trump to leave the agreement.
All the indicators are going in the wrong direction, and warning bells are ringing so loud as to be deafening.
Kevin Trenberth, a senior scientist in the climate analysis section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research
The majority of business leaders, though, disagree with the president. Some have jumped off his advisory panels.
Polls show Americans prefer solar, wind and other alternatives to fossil fuels. Home solar panels are cheaper and more prevalent. Conventional utilities are investing in solar and wind.
But the bad news far outweighs the good.
NOAA said the world had its second highest increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide on record last year.
“All the indicators are going in the wrong direction, and warning bells are ringing so loud as to be deafening,” Kevin Trenberth, a senior scientist in the climate analysis section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, told Inside Climate News. “Without the Paris agreement, the acceleration will likely continue and we will exceed 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial by the 2050s or earlier.”
And we’re witnessing what could be the beginning of a worrisome chain-reaction in the Antarctic where the Larsen C ice shelf is about to calve an enormous iceberg. Scientists fear that could be the beginning of the end for the ice shelf, which would dramatically raise sea levels.
Perk Beach, indeed.