“Earth’s 2015 surface temperatures were the warmest since modern record keeping began in 1880.” — NASA.
“America’s leadership in Paris has put the world on the path to a clean energy future that will create jobs and save lives.” — Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters.
“The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” — Donald Trump.
In late 2015, at the Paris Climate Summit (COP 21), the world made history by agreeing to rapid carbon emissions reductions in an effort to prevent catastrophic climate change. The Summit, which has earned criticism from climate activists claiming its resulting treaty doesn’t go far enough and attacks from a fossil fuel industry which would necessarily be phased out as the global community pushes for a transition to low and zero carbon energy sources, forged the strongest international climate treaty yet. As such, it represented a huge leap forward in global climate policy.
(“You’ve Been Trumped” Trailer highlights Trump’s bullying of the Scottish people and fighting to take down wind farms in his push to build a golf course in Scotland. See also — Injurious to the American People.)
As the treaty was being hammered out in Paris, COP 21 quickly became a central topic of debate in the 2016 US Presidential Election. Republicans, who have made a brand name out of pandering for fossil fuel corporate campaign dollars by making ever-more outrageous public professions of climate change denial, practically tripped over each other in their efforts to denounce the treaty.
Ted Cruz, the main contender to Trump, held what could best be described as a circus of climate change denial on the floor of Congress while the Paris Summit was unfolding. Chris Christie — who was still in the race at the time, but now appears to be Trump’s most likely VP candidate — blithely stated “There’s no climate crisis.” Not to be outdone, Trump coined a new conspiracy theory. Fanning both the flames of climate change denial and US workers’ fears of losing jobs to the Chinese he outrageously claimed “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” As if all the climate scientists in the world were somehow involved in some sort of secret deal with the Chinese to wreck US manufacturing. As if wind, solar and electric vehicles didn’t represent a massive new avenue for US manufacturing growth and a potential for jobs expansion not seen since the middle of the 20th Century.
Today, as the Presidential Primaries began to enter their final races, Trump apparently decided that his blanket assertion that climate scientists were involved in shady deals with the Chinese probably wasn’t going to cut it. Making a herculean effort to issue a more serious statement on Paris, Trump today claimed that he would seek to renegotiate the treaty or to withdraw from it altogether. Since the US has already committed to the treaty — pledging to reduce carbon emissions by between 26 and 28 percent through 2030 — Trump’s new claims could be taken only slightly more seriously than his earlier Chinese global conspiracy allegations. For even in the event that he is elected, he would have difficulty withdrawing as that process would take five years and much of the action had already been locked in.
(As this NASA graphic shows, 2015 was the hottest year on record. If current trends hold, 2016 will be significantly hotter at near 1.3 C above the 1880-1899 preindustrial baseline. Donald Trump doesn’t believe the scientists at NASA are telling the truth. And he has pledged to attempt to withdraw or renegotiate a critical international agreement aimed at reducing the rate of future temperature increases. Image source: NASA.)
What we should seriously consider, however, is Trump’s potential to wreck a path of ongoing emissions reductions that has been carefully crafted over the past 8 years. Trump’s statements should instead be interpreted as a signaled intent to harm the spirit of global cooperation on carbon emissions reductions that the US — in its Paris leadership during late 2015 — engendered. Trump casts blame on the Chinese, makes false claims that US commitments already in place are hurtful to the US economy, and appears ready to open a war on ramping rates of renewable energy adoption in the US. Harmful words considering the fact that renewable energy now creates five times more jobs than coal and that hundreds of US cities rely on healthy oceans, stable coastlines and predictable growing seasons for their own economic well-being.
Regarding Trump’s statement, Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters, said today in the Guardian:
“This is another example of Trump’s dangerous lack of judgement and the very real impacts it could have for all of us. Trump now not only denies the science of climate change, but also the politics and economics of it. America’s leadership in Paris has put the world on the path to a clean energy future that will create jobs and save lives. Fortunately, Trump’s rhetoric is not going to stop the Paris agreement, nor should it given the benefits of action and the costs of ignorance.”
Trump’s words engender and epitomize what has been an ongoing effort by him, and his republican allies, to spread climate ignorance and to prevent helpful climate action. In essence, Trump is pledging to block what is now a building global effort to save lives and prevent harm. An effort that every person of conscience and right mind should now be undertaking.
Hat Tip to Colorado Bob
Hat Tip to Caroline