U. S WITHDRAWAL FROM THE PARIS CLIMATE ACCORD WOULD NOT ONLY BE BAD NEWS FOR THE PLANET, BUT IT WILL HARM THE AMERICAN ECONOMY AND ITS STANDING AS LEADER OF THE FREE WORLD

If Russia’s goal in meddling with our 2016 election in order to support the election of Donald J. Trump as President was to isolate the U.S. from the rest of the international community of nations and to weaken the NATO alliance standing in the way of Russia’s ambitions to recover parts of eastern Europe that it had “lost” after the collapse of the Soviet Union, then it has succeeded beyond its wildest imagination.

Every one of the U.S’s allies and trading partners has signed onto the Paris Climate Agreement, which has the goal of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions and slow the alarming rise in global temperatures. There are now 194 countries that have joined the Agreement, with only two holdouts (Syria and Nicaragua).

If the Trump Administration decides to withdraw from the Agreement, it will not only be jeopardizing this historic effort to address the serious perils of climate change, but it will mark the death knell of America’s position for the past 70 years as the leader of the free world. Since the end of World War II, the U.S. has – with limited exceptions – provided the leadership as well as the economic and military might to ensure that global and regional alliances promoting peace and stability can work effectively. In 1945, the international conference establishing the United Nations was sponsored by the U.S. in San Francisco, and it has been headquartered in New York City since then. The World Bank and the IMF are headquartered in Washington, D.C., and have helped contribute to global economic and financial stability for decades. In Western Europe, U.S. leadership of the NATO alliance has kept the peace in Europe and deterred the Soviet Union and its Communist allies from engulfing our democratic allies in Western Europe.

When President George W. Bush pulled the U.S. out of the Kyoto Protocol — an international treaty acknowledging that global warming exists and that that human-made CO2 emissions have caused it — the U.S.’s standing in the world was severely damaged and took years to repair. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell has recently acknowledged that the international and diplomatic “blowback” from this last attempt by a Republican administration to undermine international efforts to combat climate change was far greater than anticipated.

A similar blunder by the Trump Administration with regard to the Paris Accord would be likely to have even more severe consequences, given the fact that our allies are already questioning the U.S.’s willingness and ability to lead the Western democratic alliance. The Trump White House has already caused consternation among our NATO allies by raising doubts as to whether the U.S. can continue to be relied upon to come to the defense of another NATO country that is attacked, and his suggestion that Climate Change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese has made us the laughingstock of the rest of the world. President Trump also could not resist picking a fight with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany over trade and other issues during his recent overseas trip, and his ham-handed attempt to elbow another leader out of the way during a photo-op did little to repair the damage that he has already caused to our standing among our European allies. Chancellor Merkel has already started publicly talking about the necessity for Europe to forge its own destiny without the U.S., and this kind of thinking will only accelerate if the U.S. pulls out of the Paris Accord.

WHY AREN’T WE HEARING ANYTHING FROM THE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT?

During the first Presidential primary debate and in the days to follow, we heard much about Alicia Machado, the former Miss Universe pageant winner and whether the recent hacking of the DNC emails was the work of the Russian intelligence services or an anonymous 400- pound hacker lying on this bed. However, not a word was spoken during the debate about the environmental dangers facing not only our country but the planet itself.
Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate, suggested during an interview by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that the way we have to deal with global warming and climate change is “that we do have to inhabit other planets. The future of the human race is space exploration.” Well, at least Gary Johnson recognizes that the environment is an issue and is speaking out about it, even if it is in his typically inane way.
To the extent that Donald Trump has said anything about energy and the environment, it has been to reassure the big-coal and big-oil lobby that he will support them 100%, abolish the EPA and all those annoying environmental regulations that are hampering the fossil fuel’s ability to maximize their profits by polluting the atmosphere as much as possible. He has categorically denied the science of climate change and bashed renewable energy, suggesting that the concept of Climate Change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese to hurt the U.S. economy.
Of course, all of this climate change denial and run-of-the-mill Republican bashing of environmental regulations is all just a show for purposes of political expediency. In 2009, Trump actually signed a New York Times full-page ad supporting President Obama’s plans to combat climate change, and the Trump International Golf Links & Hotel in County Clare, Ireland filed out an application to build a seawall explicitly referencing “global warming and its effects” as the reason for the construction. Trump
As a candidate of the Republican Party, Trump felt that he had to do a 180 degree turn and pledge to support a “no-nothing” platform on the environment which basically says that the fossil fuel industry can do anything it wants to pollute the planet, and that that all environmental regulations are a socialist plot. Trump’s energy advisor, Rep. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, basically believes anything that the fossil fuel industry lobbyists tell him to believe, which means that he is a big fan of fossil fuel extraction, dislikes environmental regulations, and believes that mainstream climate science is based on “fraudulent science.”
It is a fairly safe bet, therefore, that a President Trump would also seek to eviscerate President Obama’s signature climate policy, the Clean Power Plan, which regulates carbon pollution from the power sector through a flexible arrangement with each state. In any event, there is little doubt that a President Trump would make history – not in a good way – as the first climate change-denier of any major country on the planet. Another first!
Hillary Clinton’s environmental policy positions say all the right things from the point of view of an environmentalist. She believes that the economy should be transitioned to a clean energy economy, and has set an aggressive agenda for the creation of enough renewable energy to power every home in America. She has also called for a half billion solar panels to be installed by the end of her first term as President, and the reduction of oil consumption by one-third, as well as sharp reduction in energy waste in American homes, schools, hospitals, offices and manufacturing facilities. However, Secretary Clinton has not emphasized her environmental agenda on the campaign trail, perhaps in response to various polls showing that environmental issues are not as important as other issues to American voters.
However, if the Clinton campaign were to get the message out that a Trump Administration would roll back most of the environmental achievements of the Obama Administration, and would jeopardize American leadership on the climate change issue following the Paris agreement on climate change, the narrative could quickly become a compelling one for the American public. Leaving aside the importance of addressing climate change and other pressing environmental issues, the United States would be voluntarily abandoning its world leadership on this issue and ceding it to — in all probability – China, which has already begun to raise private capital for environmental projects through the sale of “green bonds.” In fact, according to former Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr., these Chinese bonds now account for 40% of the global environmental bond market after only a six-month period. See www.nytimes.com/2016/09/20/opinion/how-to-raise-trillions-for-green-investments. China also plans to spend $1 trillion over the next five years for energy efficient buildings, low-carbon transportation and clean energy for its cities, and it will sharply reduce carbon emissions by creating a nationwide carbon market in 2017.
Both the Clinton and the Trump campaign organizations owe it to the American people to direct more – or at least some — of their attention to the environmental and energy issues that will determine what kind of future and what kind of planet our children and grandchildren will be living on. If a non-democratic country such as China can squarely face the impending crisis regarding climate change and global warming, then a democracy such as ours, which professes to care about the well-being of all of its citizens, should be able to do so as well.