Despite White House spin that President Donald Trump’s first trip abroad was a smashing success, it has actually damaged U.S. relations with some of our closest allies. One issue that has caused consternation, particularly among European leaders, is Trump’s threat of pulling out of the 2015 Paris climate change accord.
On Saturday, Trump tweeted from Sicily that he would make a final decision on the agreement this week.
Not 24 hours later, Axios, citing three sources, reported that the president has already made up his mind to pull out. Trump apparently told EPA administrator Scott Pruitt that he plans to quit the Paris agreement, according to the report.
As Axios notes, “Pulling out of Paris is the biggest thing Trump could to do unravel Obama’s climate policies.”
Here we have a toxic cocktail of reasoning by the president, who doesn’t seem to be capable of thinking far into the future about legacy, or about protecting the planet for our children, and our children’s children. Is Trump pulling out of the Paris agreement because he feels threatened by his smarter colleagues in Europe and is trying to bully them? Is he pandering to polluting industries that view any type of regulation that threatens their bottom line as hostile? Is it about Obama? Does he actually believe that climate change is a Chinese hoax? Or is it all of the above?
Whatever his rationale, the outcome of scrapping the hard-fought agreement would have ripple effects across the world, scientists say. The Associated Press consulted more than two-dozen climate scientists to predict the consequences of scrapping the accord.
According to the AP:
Scientists said it would worsen an already bad problem and make it far more difficult to prevent crossing a dangerous global temperature threshold.
Calculations suggest it could result in emissions of up to 3 billion tons of additional carbon dioxide in the air a year. When it adds up year after year, scientists said that is enough to melt ice sheets faster, raise seas higher and trigger more extreme weather.
The move would likely add anywhere between 0.1-0.3 degrees Celsius to global temperatures by the end of the century, according to scientific modeling. That would put ecosystems “out of whack with the climate,” cause trouble for the world’s farmers, and increase food and water shortages, the National Center for Atmospheric Research’s Kevin Trenberth told AP.
There is one tiny silver lining in all of this: Pulling the U.S. out of the Paris agreement isn’t going to be easy for Trump. According to Axios, if the president announces the U.S. is leaving, we wouldn’t actually be able to do so until late 2020. And who knows what could happen by then. (For example, will Trump still be president?)
He could also require the accord to be approved by the Senate, which under the current Republican leadership isn’t going to happen, Axios noted. Still, that would expose Republican senators to additional extended public scorn.
The third option is going nuclear and pulling the U.S. out of all global climate diplomacy, which is a fool’s errand.
Either way, unfurl those protest banners again, because it could be yet another week of anger and resentment toward the country’s most bumbling, misguided presidency ever.