Trump shoots himself in the foot on climate

Trump has announced that the US will withdraw from the Paris climate agreement and seek to negotiate a ‘better’ agreement. I liked Emmanuel Macron’s reaction – “Lets make the planet great again”. Germany, France and Italy have committed to carry on, China will relish the opportunity to move into the vacuum.

Paul Hawken, who knows more about climate change action than most (post coming up) recently said:

    First of all, let’s be honest: The US has never led in this area. Ever. When they’ve tried on an executive level, they’ve never been supported by Congress. States have led, cities have led, but never the federal government.

Even so, he said people in the US think they lead in “this stuff”. They don’t, it’s Germany, China, France and Denmark.

Trump aspires to join Nicaragua and Syria as the only nations not signed up to the Paris Accord.

Germany, France and Italy have issued a statement saying that the Paris Accord can’t be renegotiated. They say there is no better deal than Paris, which works on voluntary contributions. The phrase was “common but differentiated responsibility” according to each country’s circumstances. The US alone decides how much effort it puts in. Obama committed to a 26-28% reduction by 2025 on a 2005 base.

France has offered work to any US scientists who need or want to relocate. This is tangible and welcome, as research and climate monitoring funds are under pressure with Trump.

Theresa May was mild in her criticism, suggesting that she thinks she can talk him around and turn Trump into a Ronald Reagan. This is delusional. Made it easy for Jermey Corbyn, who accused her of “dereliction of duty to our country and our planet”.

Trump will withdraw the $3 billion Obama committed to the UN climate fund to help developing countries. China will no doubt fill the gap, taking advantage of the influence that will bring.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted that he was “deeply disappointed”.

    Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel called Trump’s decision a “brutal act,” continuing with, “Leadership means fighting climate change together. Not forsaking commitment.”

Former Kiribati president Anote Tong, who was involved in the Paris negotiations, called Trump a “classroom bully” and said no Pacific nations will go beck to the negotiation table. Current Pacific leaders were similarly minded.

The Leased Developed Countries group within the UN accused Trump of “showing disregard for the lives of millions around the world.” And:

    “…Many countries have taken up the mantle of global climate leadership through ambitious climate policies and innovation, and the US has lost a seat at this table.”

Fox News, for a moment, Fox News actually acknowledged that climate change is real.

In commentary on Saturday Salon from here, zoot linked to The Daily Kos where the heavy hitters in technology and business express their disapproval.

Obama saw the Trump decision as rejecting the future.

“Even in the absence of American leadership; even as this Administration joins a small handful of nations that reject the future; I’m confident that our states, cities, and businesses will step up and do even more to lead the way, and help protect for future generations the one planet we’ve got.”

As zoot linked, Washington State, New York state and California announced the formation of United States Climate Alliance. From BilB’s link, 34 states now have climate action plans.

61 cities have vowed to uphold the Paris agreement.

On the impact of Trump’s decision, David Roberts shows in one graph what the Trump decision would mean if US emissions flatline:

With the impetus from the states, cities, business and individuals, the US will probably do better than that.

Bill Hare, Director of Climate Analytics, is a well-connected ex-pat Australian, whose core business is monitorig progress on climate action. In The Conversation he takes a broad look. Ironically Trump made his announcement in the White House rose garden, where George W Bush famously repudiated Kyoto. While the US lost impetus, Europe, he says, having made a beginning under Kyoto, now has a legislative climate policy framework which is now the most comprehensive and far-reaching in the world.

Problem is that we don’t have time, there is a large train of coal-fired power stations being built in the developing world, and a leading nation promoting fossil fuels is the last thing we need.

Hare, like other commentators, thinks the Trump decision will cost the US jobs. A trade war with other countries placing tariffs on US goods is more than a possibility.

John Feffer analyses how the US strategic pivot to Asia under Obama was not working. The US currently has 375,000 military and civilian personnel stationed within the Pacific Command’s ambit and devotes roughly half its naval capacity to Pacific waters. Feffer’s analysis, however, is a useful corrective to those who see a simple replacement of one hegemonic power by another.

On climate specifically, the EU and China have announced closer cooperation planned in anticipation of Trump’s decision.

That link has this useful graphic of who is doing the polluting:

In Australia Turnbull and Frydenberg have held the line, but the sceptics, deniers and fossil fuel lovies have been mightily encouraged. With the Finkel review about to hit the deck, a battle royal within the LNP is foreshadowed by Frydenberg himself. Thanks Ootz for the link.

The most interesting development, however, is that Xenophon has indicated that now is the time to make a stand. I heard it on the ABC, but this ling is to the Oz: Nick Xenophon ups ante with push on carbon scheme.

    Senate powerbroker Nick Xenophon will use a new government report that recommends an emissions intensity scheme to “leverage” his position in negotiations with cabinet ministers over key budget measures.

    The threat comes after the ­Climate Change Authority and Australian Energy Market Commission released a joint report calling for the adoption of an EIS to deliver affordable, secure and lower-emissions power.

In short, Xenophon will not cooperate on budget matters unless he gets an EIS. If Labor and The Greens line up against Turnbull, he can’t avoid Xenophon.

Interesting times.

Finally, there is masses of material everywhere on the Trump Paris matter. Think Progress, for example, has multiple posts under the tag Paris Agreement.

To help our pollies inclined to deny or downplay climate change, I’ve assembled a few graphs, that show the world is changing.

This one is James Hansen’s temperature graph:


At Mauna Loa the increase in atmospheric CO2 continues unabated:

Here’s an overlay of temperature and greenhouse gases:

This one, also from Hansen, but based on new reasearch by others, shows the relentless acceleration of sea level rise

Finally, the three graphs, also from Hansen:

Greenhouse gases, temperature and sea level rise have been tagging each other for the last 65 million years. Hansen has explained, over a decade ago, why the causal link runs both ways between temperature and greenhouse gases, along with the agency in the last three million years of orbital wobbles.

If there is a one per cent chance he’s right, along with the other 97%, we should be acting.

20 thoughts on “Trump shoots himself in the foot on climate”

  1. Now I can go and finish breakfast.

    Later I’ll try to find a graph I saw of climate opinion in the US. It showed the steady decline in Republic voters support for human agency, along with a corresponding increase by Democratic voters.

  2. Linking Trump’s weirdness to opposition to climate action may increase the support for climate action and a general reluctance to to be seen opposing it.

  3. Yale University did some work on American opinion, published in early May.

    In every state the majority of people think the U.S. should participate in the Paris Agreement.

    Most registered voters in the US favour remaining in the agreement.

    47% of Trump voters favour staying in, 28% say no and 25% don’t know.

  4. Elon Musk has threatened to quit as Trump’s business advisor.

    John Kehoe, the AFR correspondent in the US, thinks it’s all about China rather than the climate.

    In a strange coincidence (not!) China’s Premier Li Keqiang met European Union counterparts including German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin as Trump made his announcement, so that they could be all together to make a counter-announcement of their own.

    Kehoe says:

    The pullback embodies the idea that under President Trump the US is ceding broader global leadership.

    It raises difficult questions about the future of multilateralism, signals a possible tilt in geopolitical power away from the US and casts doubt over the American-rules based liberal order that has underpinned economic prosperity for most of the past 70 years.

    Though Trump dangled the option of renegotiating a “fair” agreement to ensure a “level playing field” for the US, European leaders quickly rejected his overture.

    Apparently Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, economic adviser Gary Cohn and daughter Ivanka wanted the US to stay.

  5. Well,…well…, it seems we might be wrong,…at least according to God’s plan. Mysterious ways, remember?…and also remember the Earth ends in fire (global cooking so to speak),..according to this lady, Donald Trump is an instrument of God,…hole in foot and all..

  6. Oh!! Am I the one on comment duty tonight?

    OK…!…So,….how was everyone’s day? Mine? I spent half the day driving from store to store to try to find a cable tracing meter. We’ve got a mouse who I think has chewed through some wiring leaving half the power points with no juice, but no blown fuse either. And as the house was wired up in the mid 60’s its a bit of a nightmare clambering around in dirt and tight spaces at my age. Didn’t find a meter so will buy one on line through the week.

    Apart from that, I think that I am suffering from a little depression brought on by the total lack of rational reasoning going on in governments. We can all tolerate some degree of political fudging but what is going on these past few years is full on inverse of logic and that is disorienting.

    Does any body else feel the same way?

  7. BilB, yes I do. I’m hoping to do a segment about some of that in S Salon in a minute, when I get back to it.

    BTW I did see a post that one of the American politicians believed that if there was a problem with global warming, God would fix it.

    Further up you referred to Wottsupwiththat obsessions with solar coronal mass ejections. There was actually a thing called the Carrington Event in 1859 which if it happened today would burn out every transformer on every electricity grid on the planet, ending civilisation as we know it, because they take about a year to rebuild, and guess what, you need electricity to do it.

  8. Those were the days, Brian.
    Your posts about (unlikely but) very worrying potential catastrophes were gems of their kind.
    Always erudite.

    If “we all go together when we go” it’ll be some comfort to know, “this is one of the scenarios Brian sketched out”. 🙁

  9. I should point out that wOttsupwiththat is the (science) contra of Anthony Watts’ (denialist) wAttsupwiththat, for those who might miss the difference.

  10. For depression I recommend first seeing your GP, then follow Her/His recommendations .
    Its a real and serious mental disorder.

    Or call Lifeline 13 11 14.

  11. BilB

    We were lucky. When the rodent chewed the power cord, it was an extension cord running behind a set of shelves in the shed; easy to locate and replace. Lucky.

    But I did marvel at the power and tenacity of the chewing task the rodent had accomplished.

    Good luck!

  12. New Saturday salon now up.

    Ambigulous, as you know I yearn for a good disaster story, but can’t seem to find any, except cyclones, floods and terrorist attacks. I did a post at LP on Carrington, and I recall at least one on super-volcanoes, but they didn’t come across to CP and now LP is unavailable – hacked, I think.

    Here’s one on asteroid strikes from November 2013.

  13. BilB, as Jumpy says clinical depression should be taken seriously, but one of my wife’s oldies said “Show me a realist and I’ll show you a pessimist”.

    I had a philosophy lecturer once who had a collection of aphorisms pinned on his door. One I remember went along the lines: “It’s not your eyes, it’s reality that needs adjusting”.

    My understanding is that clinical depression is characterised by an inability to complete, or difficulty in completing normal tasks, but I’m no authority. My GP had a handy list of 10 questions, but I persuaded her the problem, as on the philosopher’s door, was really out there, not with me.

  14. Ambi, we had a big Russian Blue cat who was a master rat catcher, but sadly he died. Now we have a problem, the other two cats are useless (one is 20 and the other is a total flake). I am running the house on extension leads, so there is little real inconvenience.

  15. Brian: My understanding is that our power system is vulnerable to Carrington events because of those long power lines carrying AC power. The Carrington events set up DC electricity flows which causes problems because transformers have almost no resistance when it comes to DC power.
    Microgrids are less vulnerable and solar plus batteries would be unlikely to register a Carrington event.
    Our other protection is our solar flare warning system. Provides time to shut down the vulnerable parts of the system.

  16. Yes, John.

    We see the solar flare long before the pulses of heavy solar wind arrive at Earth’s magnetosphere

  17. John, I hadn’t thought about the relationship of solar flares to microgrids and home solar. Another good reason for thinking of these.

    I think our warning system from memory depends on a stationary satellite way out there between the earth and the sun, but can’t remember the details.

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