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Trump’s Climate Decision Weakens America On The World Stage

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Trump’s Climate Decision Weakens America On The World Stage

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Reprinted with permission from ANDREWS MCMEEL SYNDICATION.

This is disastrous.

With his decision to withdraw from the Paris accord on climate change, President Donald J. Trump shoved his country’s chair away from the head of the table. He sided with those notable world leaders Syria and Nicaragua, which were the only two of 197 nations that refused to join the historic agreement to curb carbon emissions in 2016. (Those 197 nations were all signatories to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.)

That means America has abandoned a role it has held since the end of World War II as the unquestioned leader of the free world, the widely respected force for global good, the premier defender of human rights. There is, after all, no human right more basic than the right to clean air and water, the right to live on a planet that provides basic resources, the right to an Earth that is a friendly host to the human species.

President Barack Obama stepped eagerly onto the world stage as an advocate for aggressive measures to curb carbon emissions. He not only led domestic efforts, such as tough new standards for power plants in the U.S., but he also kept up the pressure on China to take responsibility for reducing global warming. (Trump has already taken steps to reverse Obama’s domestic initiatives on climate change.)

With China and the U.S. both agreeing to the Paris document last year, the two nations that generate nearly 40 percent of the world’s carbon emissions had joined the effort to combat greenhouse gases.

Now, Trump has left China looking like a better global citizen than the United States. If the agreement collapses, the United States will certainly be blamed. And if it doesn’t, China is in an excellent position to claim moral authority. Even Trump’s good friend Vladimir Putin has issued a statement saying that Russia backs the Paris accord.

Several of the president’s advisers urged him to stay the course. So did many leaders of business and industry, who have accepted the science of climate change and begun to revise their business models accordingly. So did Todd Stern, who was Obama’s chief negotiator on the Paris framework. “Pulling out of Paris would cause serious diplomatic damage. The countries of the world care about climate change. They see it as a profound threat. … The president’s exit from Paris would be read as a kind of ‘drop dead’ to the rest of the world. Bitterness, anger and disgust would be the wages of this careless act,” Stern wrote recently in The Atlantic.

That just covers the diplomatic damage. It doesn’t take into account the environmental wreckage from a failed accord.
The Paris agreement is no panacea. It is nonbinding and allows individual countries to tailor their reductions in emissions as best suits them. And many scientists don’t think it does enough to prevent global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels — an increase considered unacceptably dangerous.

But it does signal a serious start toward genuine solutions to the problem of global warming. Getting the biggest three polluters — the United States, China and India — to even agree to curb emissions was a victory.

If the Paris accord falls apart and the world reverts to its old ways, the human race will be more threatened. The Pentagon has already identified climate change as a serious threat to national security because of the ways in which it challenges global stability. A 2014 report from the Department of Defense called it a “threat multiplier.”

“The impacts of climate change may cause instability in other countries by impairing access to food and water, damaging infrastructure, spreading disease, uprooting and displacing large numbers of people, compelling mass migration, interrupting commercial activity, or restricting electricity availability,” the Pentagon said.

That’s just the beginning. Climate change will first wreak havoc on the poorest countries. But the rising oceans will reach our shores as well, threatening our coastal cities. Droughts, floods and fierce storms will also challenge our way of life. There won’t be any walls high enough to protect us from a worldwide calamity.

Cynthia Tucker won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2007. She can be reached at cynthia@cynthiatucker.com.

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Cynthia Tucker Haynes

Cynthia Tucker Haynes, a veteran newspaper journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner, is a Visiting Professor of Journalism and Charlayne Hunter-Gault Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at the University of Georgia. She is also a highly-regarded commentator on TV and radio news shows.

Haynes was editorial page editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper for 17 years, where she led the development of opinion policy. More recently, she was that newspaper’s Washington-based political columnist. She maintains a syndicated column through Universal Press Syndicate, which is published in dozens of newspapers around the country. Besides winning the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2007, Haynes has also received numerous other awards, including Journalist of the Year from the National Association of Black Journalists.

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7 Comments

  1. Dominick Vila June 6, 2017

    When Trump reneged on the commitment made by the USA to pursue goals conducive to a reduction in carbon emissions, and pollution in general, he deliberately ceded the stage to those committed to do what is right for humanity. Trump’s surrogates and supporters try to minimize the importance, and potential consequences, of his decisions citing that we can now negotiate a better agreement, to one that allowed all member nations to make adjustments to their initial commitment dependent on domestic and regional conditions, as well as national circumstances. The sad truth is that nobody wants to negotiate anything with a man who does not honor international agreements, that insults and threatens allies, that agrees to sell weapons to the largest hotbed of terrorism in the world, and a man who puts personal goals and prejudices ahead of national interest. He acted like an arrogant narcissist. A vindictive, ignorant, and greedy person, and he is likely to be treated accordingly. Those that believe Trump’s behavior is evidence of leadership and statesmanship should reflect on what is happening. The first thing they will learn, if they do, is that fear and immaturity are not synonymous to leadership or vision.

    Reply
  2. plc97477 June 6, 2017

    If there is any light at the end of the tunnel it is that southern florifda (mara lago) will be the first to go in the USA.

    Reply
    1. Aaron_of_Portsmouth June 6, 2017

      Now, there’s a dump that really needs to be submerged.

      Reply
  3. Aaron_of_Portsmouth June 6, 2017

    Trump has always been handicapped to the point of being front and center, and his bone-headed decision accomplished that—but in a negative way.
    With former President making a bold move to set America on the right path to helping reverse the breakdown of the earth’s environment, Trump withing days has forced the country to take a quantum leap backwards.
    Such is not only Trump’s mentality, but is a backwards way of thinking which has become emblematic of conservative forces in America.

    And so, Trump in one fell swoop has made of America the laughing stock of the planet, and has projected himself as the undisputed planetary all-star Simpleton, and champion of chumps.

    Reply
  4. bobnstuff June 7, 2017

    I don’t think Trump can handle leadership. he never had to before this. His system of management has always been bullying and bossing people. If the didn’t do it his way he simply fired them. He is handing over all the world leadership to other countries and all the domestic leadership to Bannon and his son in law. Congress is no help since the republicans can’t figure out how to govern or even decide what day it is.

    Reply
    1. dpaano June 8, 2017

      His biggest problem is that he doesn’t understand how he interacts with Congress….he has failed on many counts to give them any VALID instructions on what he wants them to do…..they are in the dark in most cases as to how to proceed with his random ideas on healthcare, infrastructure, taxes, budget, etc.

      Reply
      1. ivory69690@yahoo.com June 9, 2017

        the CLOWN cant give something he dose not have and never had

        Reply

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