What are Trump’s Real Motives Behind Leaving The Paris Climate Accord?
Trump has kept the entire world in suspense about his decision regarding the Paris Climate Accord. He has previously expressed his desire to abdicate and will announce his decision soon. The U.S. may join Syria and Nicaragua as the group of outsiders not signing on, although Russia signed on, but hasn’t ratified the agreement or submitted an action plan for meeting the accord’s primary goal of keeping global temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Besides denying the science and the reality of climate change, what is driving Trump to withdraw from the agreement. I believe there are a number of factors including financial, political and personal.
In 2015, developed countries including the U.S. agreed to contribute financially to assist developing countries in meeting the established climate goals in addition to investing domestically to meet their own obligations. In the last two years the U.S. has contributed over a half a billion dollars to these established climate funds. Trump doesn’t want the US to pay millions of dollars and would rather spend money domestically (e.g. building a wall). During the G7 meeting he berated the other leaders for not paying their fair share of the NATO costs while complaining how much the US is paying. He has also cutting funding for international health programs and peace keeping efforts abroad. Also, meeting the goals established under the Paris Accord would likely require implementing a carbon tax and drastically reducing the use of fossil fuels, especially coal, which Trump has been trying to expand. Trump’s steadfast support of fossil fuel benefits oil rich countries such as Russia and Saudi Arabia, Trump’s dear friends. In his mind participating in the Paris Climate Accord will hamper U.S. businesses and shrink the GDP. He cannot fathom that climate change is the biggest threat to our civilization and that we must act now. He has already demonstrated his “leadership” style which involves very short term thinking and he is repeatedly been called the “transactional president”. His rationale does not take into consideration the opportunities to expand renewable energy sectors and other new technologies that will help propel the GDP in the future.
Politically he promised on the campaign trail that he would withdraw from international agreements he thought were unfair to the U.S. including the Paris Accord. He wants to be seen as fulfilling his promise. He has surrounded himself with advisors such as Steve Bannon who support isolationism and an agenda of strong nationalism. However, isolationism has proven to be a flawed approach as we witnessed with President Roosevelt and his reluctance to actively fight against Hitler for the majority of Hitler’s time in power. The U.S. had to step in after much delay. We are already witnessing the diminishment of US a world leader as evidenced by comments from Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron. Politically, withdrawing will prove to be a mistake.
Personally, Trump wants to undo many of Obama’s accomplishments and this would be one of them. For some reason Trump holds a grudge against Obama and has repeatedly attacked him and questioned his legitimacy as seen by the “birther” debacle. Trump will relish the opportunity to undercut Obama’s legacy.
Can the future of our planet rest on this one decision; certainly not. This will create a hurdle for the rest of us but hopefully will push everyone to overcompensate and rise to meet the challenge.