Editor’s Note: Coastal Breeze News welcomes new columnist, Marco Island resident Judy Brenna, who will be providing readers with a regular column of her insights, “In My View.”
Until 2020, that is. Recently, U.S. President Donald Trump announced to the world that the United States was pulling out of the Paris Agreement on climate change. However, the withdrawal will take nearly four years to complete, which goes beyond the next presidential election in 2020. While our country has plenty of naysayers about global warming, consider that the rest of the world says yes, there is.
The nearly 200 countries throughout the world in December 2015 agreed to keep the global temperature warming below 2 degrees Celsius to 2100, which scientists said was the threshold for safety. The Agreement came into force on November 4, 2016. The long-term goal is that net zero emissions would phase out fossil fuels.
The world’s largest gas and oil companies, including Exxon-Mobil, Shell, and Chevron, take climate change seriously. Even though in 2013, all three companies hurriedly searched for new fossil fuel deposits. According to ClimateNexus.org, fossil fuel companies support the scientific consensus on climate change. All agree on the connection between carbon emissions and global warming. Exxon/Mobil stated that, “Rising greenhouse gas emissions pose significant risks to society and ecosystems.”
In addition to strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, the Paris Agreement brings all nations into a common cause to combat climate change, charting a new course in the global climate effort.
Not until 2018 will the countries evaluate their progress toward the agreed upon goals. After that, every five years, they will assess the countries’ collective progress. The Agreement can succeed because of the near universal acceptance by all the nations.
Two countries did not sign on – Nicaragua and Syria. Now, the president does not want the United States to belong. China and the European Union have already stated that they plan to stay in the Paris Agreement regardless what the U.S. does. The agreement was voluntary to each country, so the rest of the world will go about their business to phase out greenhouse gas emissions, while we sit on the sidelines. North Korea signed the pact, calling the U.S. decision to quit the Paris Accord the height of egotism and ignorance.
Just as examples, India plans to phase out new sales of gasoline-powered autos, preferring electric cars by 2032. China, who takes the top spot for emitters of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas, has scrapped plans for over 100 coal-fired power plants. The United States is the second largest polluter in the world, and we’re pulling out. Yay for us!
Trump has argued that the “Paris Climate Accord is simply the latest example of Washington entering into an agreement that disadvantages the United States to the exclusive benefit of other countries, leaving American workers – who I love – and taxpayers to absorb the cost in terms of lost jobs, lower wages, shuttered factories and vastly diminished economic production.” The president must receive his information in the looking glass. Jonathan Koomey, a lecturer in Earth Systems at the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences at Stanford University, said, “In virtually every case that’s been false.”
Top scientists and analysts from the Weather Channel have said: “The toll on the economy from rising sea levels, disaster relief, changing weather patterns and the loss of jobs in the renewable energy sector, among other considerations, could be much worse than jobs lost to regulations imposed by the Accord.” Many economists say the directives of the Accord may boost the economy just by keeping the workforce alive and healthy, among other things.
Now, China becomes the world’s leader in innovative, renewable energy sources. China employs 3.6 million people for renewables. China says it plans to invest $144 billion in solar projects and create an additional 13 million jobs in the sector by 2020. The Associated Press reported that China intends to invest $100 billion in wind and $70 billion in hydropower.
Despite President Trump’s forgetfulness about curbing pollution, the governors of California, New York and Washington initiated an alliance to adhere to the Paris Accord. Other member states include Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Puerto Rico. A dozen states, including Hawaii, signed pledges to reduce fossil-fuel emissions. Hawaii also passed a law to document sea level rises and work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“As the federal government turns its back on the environment, New York and states across the country are picking up the mantle of climate leadership and showing the world it’s possible to address climate change while also creating goodpaying careers,” New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said.
A Louisiana community of 60 people in Isle de Jean Charles, became the first official climate refugees because it is disappearing into the Gulf of Mexico. An estimated 50 million to 200 million people may be displaced by 2050, according to the United Nations University Institute.
Roberton Williams, an economics professor at the University of Maryland, warned that pulling out of the Paris Agreement could hurt America’s standing in the world. “If we’re not willing to cooperate with other countries on this, maybe next time we want them to cooperate with us, they won’t be willing to do so,” he said. That can have serious costs for our economy.
George Shultz, Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of State, advised Trump not to withdraw from the Paris Agreement since “Global statecraft relies on trust, reputation and credibility, which can be all too squandered…If America fails to honor a global agreement that it helped forge, the repercussions will undercut our diplomatic priorities across the globe.”
Several chief executives have expressed concern and displeasure over the president’s decision to “get out,” including CEOs from GE, Disney, and Tesla, to name a few. Trump said he would negotiate a “better deal.” The United Nations body that oversees the Paris Agreement stated that there is no chance for negotiation. The country is either “in” or “out.” The member countries’ principal obligation for the Agreement is to submit a plan every five years on how they will deal with climate change. In the absence of that, bring on the fossil fuel pollution, increased flooding, and drought. These concerns are voiced by countless individuals, businesses, cities, and states. But the ego knows better.
Judy Brenna, a full-time Marco Island resident, is a retired executive in Public Relations and Investor Relations. Throughout her varied career, Judy was a reporter for a daily newspaper in New Jersey, Investor Relations Director and Corporate Communications Director in biotechnology, media, and broadcasting. She was a vice president with a financial communications agency in New York City and worked as press secretary in a number of New Jersey political campaigns including two gubernatorial, congressional, and for U. S. Senator Frank Lautenberg.