And the “Insult Europe Tour” isn’t over yet. Today, everyone is expecting Donald Trump to withdraw the US from the Paris Climate Accord, joining only Syria and Nicaragua in opposing the agreement. Our allies in Europe have been leading the fight against climate change, and now they are watching the US sink itself.
Why would Trump do this, when 71% of Americans support the Paris deal (including 57% of Republicans). In addition, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, and his daughter Ivanka Trump all want Trump to stay in the deal.
On the other hand, withdrawing from the Paris agreement plays to his base at a time when his most ardent supporters are starting to become disenchanted with Trump. Trump has accomplished almost none of his campaign promises other than appointing a conservative Supreme Court justice, and this is one of the few things that Trump can do without help from a Congress that is increasingly opposing him. And, perhaps most satisfying to Trump, it is a big chance to petulantly destroy one of Obama’s big achievements.
Personally, I am not sure how I feel about withdrawing from the Paris accord. Indeed, even some climate activists are in favor of pulling out from the agreement. They argue that the agreement is far too weak (which is why Nicaragua opposes it), its enforcement is “voluntary, insufficient, and impossible to monitor”. Worse, it provides cover for “powerful, retrenched fossil fuel interests and other bad climate actors and rogue climate states. The Paris agreement affords oil, gas and coal companies a globally visible platform through which to peddle influence and appear engaged on climate change while lobbying for business as usual.” Indeed, it is suspicious that Exxon Mobil, Chevron, BP, Peabody coal, and other fossil fuel companies support staying in the agreement, which helps protect them from lawsuits. Withdrawing from the agreement would actually make it easier for environmental organizations to “strengthen the most vigorous avenues of climate action left to us, which are through the courts and direct citizen action.”
On the other hand, as the comic implies, pulling out of the Paris climate accord could harm the US far more than it harms the rest of the world:
Ostensibly, the purpose of withdrawing from the Accord is to reduce regulation, thus allowing job creation and economic growth. But if the Chinas and the Germanys and the Frances of the world decide the U.S. is more trouble than it’s worth, and increase their dealings with one another, then it could depress the stock market, wreck the dollar, and reduce job growth.
In the end, Trump may be cutting off his nose to spite his face, but it is the rest of us who will suffer.
Also published on Medium.