Syria finally agreed to sign the historic 2015 Paris Climate Accords, making the United States the one major nation to not participate in deal, which would ask governments to limit temperature rises as a way to combat the devastating effects of climate change.
The Sierra Club wrote today that President Trump’s decision to stay out of the deal, despite public opinion strongly favoring he stay in, is disastrous. “As if it wasn’t already crystal clear,” they said, “every single other country in the world is moving forward together to tackle the climate crisis, while Donald Trump has isolated the United States on the world stage in an embarrassing and dangerous position.”
Trump denounced the Accords, which were sponsored in part by President Obama and would’ve been upheld by Hillary Clinton, on the campaign trail. Last June, he made good on his promise to pull the US out of the deal, citing that it put American workers at an “economic disadvantage,” referring to coal miners, who were crucial to his slim electoral victory last year. However, as is his wont, Trump spoke without thinking. Back in April, some of the biggest coal and fossil fuel companies in the US urged him to stick with the Paris Accords, believing that a seat at the table would allow them to negotiate the globalization of fossil fuels more easily. He was undeterred, saying, “I was elected to be President of Pittsburgh, not Paris,” going against not just the coal companies, but against his own Secretary of State, former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, who has argued that the United States should stay with the deal.
The US emits more greenhouse gas than any country except China (who signed the Accords), but the Republican Party is too trapped in the pockets of big oil and gas to notice. When twenty-two Republican Senators wrote Trump a letter urging him to pull out, the Center for Responsive Politics found that in the last three election cycles, those twenty-two men received a total of $10,694,284 in donations from fossil fuel companies. And this is not counting the dark money they receive from Charles and David Koch, the fossil fuel barons who are probably the most influential climate change deniers not employed by the government.
In a rare interview, Charles Koch argued that government should not be involved in climate change, sounding particularly Trumpian when he said he “would not have the government picking winners and losers [sic]…What we have now are very inefficient systems that are making people’s lives worse.” The Kochs did not like Trump when he ran for President, but once he got “elected,” many Koch-connected operatives joined his transition team and eventually, his administration. Now, they are more than happy to stand by while he undoes the most significant action taken on climate change since the Kyoto Protocol – which the United States also withdrew from.
Donald Trump has reduced our standing in global affairs not only through the ongoing scandal of Russia’s involvement in the last election, but through his attempts to undo Barack Obama’s legacy, from his feeble efforts to destroy Obamacare to backing out of these historic Accords. Like George W. Bush, before him, Trump is obsessed only with governing those who voted for him, not the entirety of his country. In doing so, he weakens our standing among nations that should otherwise be our allies, and gives enemy nations like Syria leverage over us that they should never have.
Appropriately enough, Donald Trump has not been invited to the next Paris Climate summit. It’s probably better that he doesn’t go – if Robert Mueller really does have enough evidence to indict former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, he will have a lot of work to do screaming at his TV set.
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