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posted on 02 June 2017

America and the Paris Climate Agreement

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The biggest news story this week was obviously President Trump's withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement. I have mixed feelings about it.

On one hand, I agree with President Trump that it's time for us to scale back on our global commitments and focus more domestically. On the other hand, I think the scale-back is in a wrong area: it should have been on the military, not on the climate agreement.

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1. Overview

I believe we, as a species, are destroying ourselves. Two major ways:

  1. World War III, which will certainly be a global nuclear war.
  2. Climate change over time.

Both are still manageable at this time, with America holding the key. Specifically:

  1. WWIII: It will involve America for sure. The only question is who else will be involved. For more, read: President Trump in the Real World of Three New Kingdoms.
  2. Climate change: The Paris Climate Agreement is a big step in the right direction.

2. Paris Climate Agreement

Below is an excerpt from Wikipedia - Paris Agreement:

The Paris Agreement (French: Accord de Paris) is an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) dealing with greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance starting in the year 2020. The language of the agreement was negotiated by representatives of 195 countries at the 21st Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC in Paris and adopted by consensus on 12 December 2015.[3][4] As of June 2017, 195 UNFCCC members have signed the agreement, 148 of which have ratified it.[1]

In the Paris Agreement, each country determines its own contribution it should make in order to mitigate global warming.[5] There is no mechanism to force[6] a country to set a specific target by a specific date.[7]

In short, the Agreement is non-binding, at the highest level at least. It simply demonstrates more of our willingness to work together for the betterment of the Earth than anything else.

3. Is it a bad deal for America?

Yes and No!

3.1 It's a bad deal for America

As always, the devil is in the details. Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia - Paris Agreement (under "Ensuring finance"):

In the Paris Agreement, the developed countries reaffirmed the commitment to mobilize $100 billion a year in climate finance by 2020, and agreed to continue mobilizing finance at the level of $100 billion a year until 2025.[42] The commitment refers to the pre-existing plan to provide US$100 billion a year in aid to developing countries for actions on climate change adaptation and mitigation.[43]

No matter what the percentage of our obligation is, we can no longer afford it, especially given our huge spending on the military.

In other words, President Trump was right in saying that we can't afford it, as our national debt is already $20 trillion. But he was wrong to continue to increase our out-of-control military spending by yet another outrageous 10%! For more, read: President Trump and War.

3.2 It's a good deal for America

In a widely inter-connected world like ours, it's not only very important, but also absolutely necessary, for all the countries to work together on many global issues (e.g. terrorism and climate change). I believe second only to the creation of the U.N. after WWII, the Paris Climate Agreement is the biggest step in the right direction for mankind, especially in terms of getting so many countries agreeing on anything!

America, as the largest economy in the world, has the obligation to not only support a deal like this, but also lead it.

Unfortunately, President Trump has chosen to "abdicate" our obligated leadership on this one, with long-term bad consequences to America. For more, read: Donald Trump Pulls U.S. Out Of Paris Accord In Crushing Blow To Climate Fight.

4. Who will fill the void?

China, as often is the case in recent years!

Here is a recent news story: EU, China trade spat blocks climate statement. Below is an excerpt:

The European Union and China warned U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday he was making a major error by withdrawing from the Paris climate pact, but the pair failed to agree a formal climate statement because of divisions over trade.

This one is particularly timely, given China's "One Belt, One Road" initiative. For more, read: Wikipedia - Belt and Road Initiative.

5. Discussion

History can often be marked with milestones. I believe America's decline, so far, can be highlighted by two major milestones:

  1. March 20, 2003: On this day, America launched the Iraq War. It was the beginning of the end of American democracy, as we know it. For more, read: What's The Real Cost of The Iraq War?
  2. June 1, 2017: On this day, America withdrew from the Paris Climate Agreement, further yielding global leadership to China.

Here is an American story: 68 mayors adopt Paris climate accord after U.S. pulls out.

What a pity! This is a Federal job, requiring Federal investments, just like the creations of the Internet and GPS. Without Federal commitments, no state or local level effort really matters, especially when faced with international competitions!

Bottom line: Again, we are losing to China!

Specifically, we spend recklessly on our military, while neglecting everything else, thanks to our deeply flawed political system: getting re-elected ad nauseam! For more, read: President Trump: Getting Re-Elected in 2020, via Tweeting?

5. Closing

President Trump, reform our political system, as I have suggested (American Democracy), or America will become an also-ran, second to China!

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