Climate Agreement Smoke And Mirrors – OpEd

There has been worldwide condemnation of Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the 2015 Paris climate agreement. The anger is warranted but it must also be said that the accord was more deal making and public relations than an attack on carbon production and global warming. Climate change is definitely not a hoax or a “con job” as Trump has said in the past. There is so much consensus from scientists on the issue that there is little to debate. Arguments about economic harm are the real con job. American industries can survive quite well and even find new profit centers as they move toward green energy solutions. But the substance of the climate accord is far less significant than we are led to believe.

The United States is the world’s biggest carbon producing culprit and its assault on the environment escalated during the Obama administration. Fracking and natural gas production soared despite all of the lip service he paid to environmental protection during his term in office. He cancelled the Keystone XL pipeline in 2015 to look good on the eve of the international meeting and because it’s construction was no longer needed.

Domestic fossil fuel production increased so much that transportation of tar sands oil from Canada was no longer necessary. In addition the United States approved other pipelines that were less visible and train transportation handled the rest. Production increased so much that oil prices plummeted and have still not recovered.

In any case, the agreement still has not taken effect, as it gives signatories five years to continue their carbon addiction. Industrial nations gave themselves a get out of jail free card by postponing the day of reckoning and by choosing opportune benchmark dates from which they said they would reduce carbon output. Russia chose 1990, the year they were in the throes of an economic collapse. Any reductions based on that era are meaningless. The same goes for the European Union and the United States who all cherry picked the most advantageous moment to claim environmental concern.

Of course Donald Trump is easy to condemn. He always is. Big business doesn’t need protection from the climate agreement. Most of corporate America were already on board precisely because it didn’t do very much. The signatory nations had little to fear because the agreement actually permitted world temperatures to rise 2 degrees. Even a seemingly small increase has devastating impacts and particularly on the nations that are least able to protect themselves. The Paris agreement even gave rich nations the ultimate get out of jail free card. It explicitly states that they would not have to pay poor countries for the damage that global warming does to them and to their people.

The United States isn’t alone in using marketing to give the appearance of progress. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is like former president Obama in many ways. He is young, photogenic, and good at giving the right impression. But his liberal government has made less progress on carbon reduction than his conservative predecessor and won’t meet even minimal targets. The Keystone XL pipeline starts in Canada’s tar sands producing regions, the scene of some of the worst environmental degradation on the planet. Trudeau joined Trump in supporting Keystone and every other pipeline going from Canada to the United States.

If the signatory nations were as concerned about climate change as they say, why is the planet now on the precipice? Some scientists predict that there is in fact no way out, that the damage done to date cannot be undone. It wasn’t done by Donald Trump, who only became president a few months ago. The world leaders who condemn Trump are even more guilty because they have used sleight of hand to give an appearance of concern and of action when they lie to the world and continue killing the planet. The United States, Canada, Japan and Russia are all rated inadequate in their anti global warming efforts.

Trump’s antics make him an easy target. When he isn’t misquoting climate change studies he is shoving other presidents, tweeting typos in the middle of the night and otherwise behaving as a parody of himself. But the car wreck we can’t turn away from is no reason to believe lies told by the global elite. The earth is getting warmer and leaders all over the world are responsible.


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Margaret Kimberley

Margaret Kimberley

Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR (http://www.blackagendareport.com), and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at http://freedomrider.blogspot.com. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgandaReport.com.

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