Well, it's official. After turning his decision on the Paris Climate Accord into a protracted reality TV episode (will he pull out? Tune in at three to find out!), Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the landmark climate agreement today
, making good on a campaign promise and aligning the U.S. with Syria and Nicaragua as the only nonparticipants in the world.
Environmentalists reacted to the news as one might expect: with anger and disgust. In a piece for The New York Times
, Bill McKibben, the founder of the environmental group 350.org, called
it "our nation’s dumbest act since launching the war in Iraq." A former EPA administrator said the decision was "contrary to science" and a "disappointing and embarrassing day for the United States."
Let's take a moment to review the facts. As the the second-largest carbon polluter in the world, you might expect that the U.S. has a special responsibility to attempt to solve the problem of, or, at the very least, take aggressive action to slow global warming. The 2015 Paris agreement, which almost every country in the world signed, set the precedent that each country involved had a role to play in reducing carbon emissions. They didn't engage in that messy feat of diplomacy because it was fun. They did it because willfully ignoring science could be catastrophic. Indeed, studies have shown that if carbon emissions continue unabated, atmospheric temperatures will continue to rise.
So if the U.S. walks away from the agreement, what sort of standard does that set for all of the other countries who signed on? Will they take Trump's lead and withdraw from the pact, as well?
North Carolina Republican senator Thom Tillis doesn't seem too concerned. He was among twenty-two Republican senators who last week signed a letter urging Trump to scrap the deal, according to the Guardian
. He was also the beneficiary of $263,400 in campaign contributions from oil and gas companies since 2012, according to the same report.
From the article:
“We strongly encourage you to make a clean break from the Paris Agreement,” read the letter, drafted by Wyoming’s John Barrasso, chairman of the Senate committee on environment and public works, and Oklahoma’s Jim Inhofe, a longtime climate change denier and senior member of that committee.
The letter argued that the Paris deal threatened Trump’s efforts to rescind the clean power plan, an Obama-era set of regulations and guidelines that include emissions caps and other rules deemed onerous by the fossil fuel industries. […]
Public opposition to the deal from almost two dozen senators just as the president prepared to make his decision, however, demonstrated the extent to which the opponents of the Paris deal were organized, ready to strike and to offer important political cover if Trump pulls the US out of the historic global deal.
Donations from oil, gas and coal interests to the signatories of the letter are Open Secrets that seemed ready for a new review. A Guardian survey of Federal Elections Commission data organized by the Center for Responsive Politics found that the industries gave a total of $10,694,284 to the 22 senators over the past three election cycles.