by Abdul-Hakim Shabazz
The beautiful thing about being a reasonable and rational human being is that you don’t give into histrionics.
For example, when the Trump administration announced this week it was pulling out of the Paris Climate Change Accord some people heard angels sing and that U.S. coal was going to make the greatest comeback since the Chicago Cubs won the World Series. On the other hand, this decision was the decisive moment that set on a course to a planet that looked like something out of Mad Max, or worse, Waterworld. (And if you saw Waterworld you know just how bad the film was.) However, like most things in this world, the truth is in the middle, and it takes a rational mind to get to it.
- First of all, Congress never ratified the Paris Accord agreement. Former President Barack Obama used an “Executive Order” to get the U.S. to agree to the deal, and all Donald Trump did was use the same Executive authority to get out it.
- Even though Trump is pulling out of the Accord, it’s not happening overnight. Under the terms of the deal, the U.S. can’t leave until late 2020, shortly after the next Presidential election, and we could have some else getting ready to take over by then.
- U. S. emissions were already dropping since 2005. By some estimates, our nation will have reduced emissions from 15 to 20 percent by 2020. Now that is short of 26 to 28 percent initially agreed to, but it was unlikely that was going to happen anyway.
- Getting out of the Paris Accord is not going to bring coal jobs back. Coal has been more of a victim of the free market than anything else. Cheaper natural gas and less expensive coal from the Western states, like Wyoming, were having a major impact on the coal industry back east. Also throw in alternate energy sources, i.e. the wind and solar and more energy efficient appliances (except for my wife’s straightening comb) and coal has problems that have nothing to do with Paris. And by the way, even the coal industry wanted to stay in the Accord to have leverage.
- Getting out the Paris Accord will hurt U.S. leadership. Particularly as it opens the door for the Chinese, our biggest economic rivals, to build new relationships with the Europeans which could cause problems down the road. There is a danger that the “America First” policy could end up being the “America Only” policy.
- If the Paris Accords, reached in 2015, were a job killer, why is the U.S. unemployment rate gone from 5.5 percent in January 2015 to 4.3 percent this past month?
- There have been charges that the “Climate Fund” was a transfer of wealth. That’s not entirely accurate. While the United States did pledge $3 billion to the fund, those donations are “subject to fund availability, ” and we’ve only contributed $1 billion. Here’s a list of projects it’s helped fund so far. And by the way, the U.S. could have stayed in the Paris Accords and refused to pay.
- If you’re a U.S. company doing business overseas in one of the other 197 countries that have signed on to the Accord, you’re going to have to comply with their environmental regulations, regardless of what happens here.
- Trump’s decision does not move the political needle much. If you were a Trump supporter before this, it was a brilliant move and showed strong leadership. If you opposed Trump, after this decision, you might buy tickets to Kathy Griffin’s next comedy show if you find any place that will feature her.
- Regardless of what happens at the federal level, state and local governments can still go forward with their own “mini-climate accords.” And before you invoke the Dormant Commerce Clause, which prohibits the states from doing anything that discriminates or substantially impedes interstate commerce, there is an exemption when the state is acting as a market participant. That means when acting as customers, state and local governments can choose to only do business with companies that have “green policies”.
So when looking at the administration’s decision to leave the Paris Accord in its totality, a lot changes and a lot doesn’t; just like most things in the Trump administration, if you put the emotional displays on the shelf and give it a thoughtful look.
Abdul-Hakim is the editor and publisher of IndyPolitics.Org. His opinions are his own, but you are free to adopt them.