I don’t know much about the environment. I don’t even know if I think the Paris Climate Change Agreement was a good idea. But I do know that now that it exists, abandoning it is crazy. Whether you are a climate skeptic, or a climate enthusiast, the US seat at the table was vital. The agreement, as toothless as it is at the moment, is unprecedented for the scope of international participation involved. 15 years ago when Bush threw over the Kyoto protocol, it didn’t really matter. Some Europeans whined, and the developing countries were happy to do away with a possible constraint on growth. The picture today couldn’t be any more different. 195 countries have signed up for this agreement. China and India are enthusiastically on board. This is the direction the world is going. And the US has decided to go hide in the corner.
It’s embarrassing and it’s exactly the sort of thing that makes Trump’s presidency so damaging. The United States still has enough power left to keep acting like this through four or even eight years of a Trump presidency. But it’s the worst possible way to spend our last years as a hegemonic power. Today we still have enough power to ignore what the rest of the world wants. But that’s changing. The difference between the Kyoto protocol and Paris Climate accords show that very clearly. The world has tremendous resentment towards its lone superpower. Up until today they didn’t have a body to express that resentment through. US power means we dominate any club we belong to. Trump just gave the world a universal club, free of US influence. This will not be good for my country. Sad!
Video Transcript after the jump…
Hey there, so Donald Trump just announced that he’s going to bring the United States out of the Paris Climate Accords. A lot of people are flipping out about this right now, but there’s one group of people who are actually pleased and excited. These are the climate skeptics, or people who believe that government shouldn’t be doing anything to try to combat climate change.
This small section of the US public is pretty excited right now, and I think that’s a mistake. I think that’s a big mistake. Now I’m not a big Environment guy. It’s not really my issue. I believe that climate change is real, and I believe that humans cause it, but I just don’t know enough about the science, I’m not someone who’s going to go shout from the rooftops about stuff that I don’t truly understand. So it’s never really been my issue, but I am also very angry that Trump has made this decision.
And it’s not about the environment. I believe that this was the wrong decision for US influence and US power. One of the interesting details of this discussion is the fact that Rex Tillerson wanted to stay in the Paris Accords. Now that’s very interesting because Tillerson is actually a CEO from Exxon Mobil, that was his job before this. He’s pretty much the definition of an oil company executive.
I am not a big fan of Rex Tillerson, and you’ll probably hear more about that on this channel, but in this instance I think he was right. What Tillerson knows, and what Trump has just chosen to ignore is the fact that having a US seat at the Paris Climate accords, meant that US companies, US energy executives, and US climate skeptics had influence on the process. That influence is now gone.
This isn’t like when George W. Bush took the United States out of the Kyoto Protocol, I think that was about 15 years ago? Back then Climate Change was not a mass issue. You had some people in the developed world who were freaking out about it, and you had some other people who weren’t. Climate Change is now a mass issue. 200 countries signed up for the Paris Climate Accords.
I think the United States has now joined Syria and Nicaragua as some of the few countries that are outside of the conversation. And that’s what you should be focusing on. Not as an environmentalist, but as someone who cares about US power, this was an insane decision to make.
The Paris Accords are now going to go forward without the United States. It’s not just an agreement, it’s a framework within which the rest of the world can decide how to handle these issues. The United States no longer has a seat at that table. It is just as dumb as the United States unilaterally deciding not to participate in the United Nations or the World Trade Organization anymore.
Yes, the climate accords are pretty weak at this point, and they’re just at the beginning formation stages. It is tremendously in the United States interest to be a part of that formation. And for climate skeptics, the US vote was pretty much the only thing holding back these climate accords, from becoming much bigger, much more powerful, and much more stringent.
So actually, if you’re an environmentalist, maybe you should celebrate the fact that the United States is no longer involved. Maybe that’s an over-statement, but as someone who is deeply concerned with American power and wants American power and prestige to be preserved in the world, uhhh… this was a really bad decision.
And it was also a really really bad decision if you’re a climate skeptic.
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