The three-minute story of 800,000 years of climate change with a sting in the tail

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Ice cores are a window into the past hundreds of thousands of years.
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Ludovic Brucker

By Ben Henley, University of Melbourne and Nerilie Abram, Australian National University

There are those who say the climate has always changed, and that carbon dioxide levels have always fluctuated. That’s true. But it’s also true that since the industrial revolution, CO₂ levels in the atmosphere have climbed to levels that are unprecedented over hundreds of millennia.

So here’s a short video we made, to put recent climate change and carbon dioxide emissions into the context of the past 800,000 years.



The temperature-CO₂ connection

Earth has a natural greenhouse effect, and it is really important. Without it, the average temperature on the surface of the planet would be about -18℃ and human life would not exist. Carbon dioxide (CO₂) is one of the gases in our atmosphere that traps heat and makes the planet habitable.

We have known about the greenhouse effect for well over a century. About 150 years ago, a physicist called John Tyndall used laboratory experiments to demonstrate the greenhouse properties of CO₂ gas. Then, in the late 1800s, the Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius first calculated the greenhouse effect of CO₂ in our atmosphere and linked it to past ice ages on our planet.

Modern scientists and engineers have explored these links in intricate detail in recent decades, by drilling into the ice sheets that cover Antarctica and Greenland. Thousands of years of snow have compressed into thick slabs of ice. The resulting ice cores can be more than 3km long and extend back a staggering 800,000 years.

[Read more…]

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People of all faiths are unified globally to beat climate change

Justin Catanoso writes: On May 24th, a grim-faced Pope Francis handed a signed copy of Laudato Si to President Donald Trump during his visit to Rome. The United States president, who has called climate change “a hoax,” promised to read the papal encyclical, a spiritual and secular plea to save the Earth from environmental destruction.

A week later, Trump announced plans to yank the U.S. out of the 2015 Paris Agreement, whose prologue was influenced by the principles embodied in Laudato Si. In doing so, Trump repudiated 195 nations’ pledges to reduce their carbon footprint to mitigate the worst effects of climate change; he repudiated Pope Francis and his encyclical as well.

Two years after the release of Laudato Si—and long after its intense global attention has faded—it’s worth asking: is the uncompromising and unprecedented Catholic teaching document fulfilling Vatican expectations by uniting leaders of all faiths, along with their billions of congregants, to take decisive climate action “in care for our common home”?

The answer is a qualified “yes”—based on evidence from interviews with a range of faith leaders, recent conferences, signed pledges, and a host a concrete actions, large and small, in congregations and seminaries around the world.

“There is an assumption that if religious leaders let the pope talk about [environmental protection], it will usher in rapid, large-scale change,” said Fletcher Harper, executive director of GreenFaith, a U.S.-based interfaith environmental activism organization with an international reach.

“That’s magical thinking. It’s not how the world works. What matters is discipline in determining long-term work by faith groups. It’s not happening as fast as I’d like it to, but it’s underway,” he said. [Continue reading…]

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Merkel’s hoped-for G-20 climate alliance is fracturing

Der Spiegel reports: German Chancellor Angela Merkel had actually thought that Canada’s young, charismatic prime minister, Justin Trudeau, could be counted among her reliable partners. Particularly when it came to climate policy. Just two weeks ago, at the G-7 summit in Sicily, he had thrown his support behind Germany. When Merkel took a confrontational approach to U.S. President Donald Trump, Trudeau was at her side.

But by Tuesday evening, things had changed. At 8 p.m., Merkel called Trudeau to talk about how to proceed following Trump’s announced withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement. To her surprise, the Canadian prime minister was no longer on the attack. He had switched to appeasement instead.

What would be wrong with simply striking all mentions of the Paris Agreement from the planned G-20 statement on climate, Trudeau asked. He suggested simply limiting the statement to energy issues, something that Trump would likely support as well. Trudeau had apparently changed his approach to Trump and seemed concerned about further provoking his powerful neighbor to the south.

The telephone call made it clear to Merkel that her strategy for the G-20 summit in early July might fail. The chancellor had intended to clearly isolate the United States. at the Hamburg meeting, hoping that 19 G-20 countries would underline their commitment to the Paris Agreement and make Trump a bogeyman of world history. A score of 19:1.

If even Trudeau is having doubts, though, then unity among those 19 is looking increasingly unlikely. Since then, the new formula has been to bring as many countries as possible together against one.

The first cracks began appearing on the Thursday before last. After returning from the G-7 summit in the Sicilian town of Taormina, Merkel had sent a clear signal to her team: “We have to stay together, we have to close ranks.”

But even before Trump announced the American withdrawal from the Paris Agreement that evening in the White House Rose Garden, it had become clear in Berlin that they would miss their first target. Led by the Italian G-7 presidency, the plan had been for a joint reaction to Trump’s withdrawal, an affirmation from the remaining six leading industrial nations: We remain loyal to Paris.

Suddenly, though, Britain and Japan no longer wanted to be part of it. British Prime Minister Theresa May didn’t want to damage relations with Trump, since she would need him in the event of a hard Brexit, the Chancellery surmised last week. And given the tensions with North Korea, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe couldn’t put his country’s alliance with the U.S. at risk. In other words: Climate policy is great, but when it comes to national interests, it is secondary. [Continue reading…]

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Once again, climate change cited as trigger for war

 

Climatewire reports: The national security establishment needs to prepare for a series of global crises sparked by climate change, a group of experts wrote in a report released today.

The analysis by the Center for Climate and Security identifies 12 “epicenters” where climate change could stress global security, possibly igniting conflicts around the world.

American diplomats and military planners have already started grappling with some of these problems—but the links between them do not get enough attention, the experts said. And it is an open question whether the Trump administration confronts those challenges or tries to ignore them.

Many of the risk epicenters stem from resource shortages and dislocated populations, but the experts also consider an increased likelihood of nuclear war, more pandemics and tensions in the Arctic.

Any one of those factors is enough to cause serious problems, but together they threaten to undermine the international order, said Francesco Femia, one of the authors of the report, titled “Epicenters of Climate and Security: The New Geostrategic Landscape of the Anthropocene.”

“The humanitarian effects of [climate change] are massive,” he said. “But what we’re saying is that those humanitarian consequences are likely to spill over into broader security problems that speaks to the heart of how the world organizes itself.” [Continue reading…]

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On climate change, Jerry Brown acts as a world leader (because Trump can’t) in talks with China

The New York Times reports: Gov. Jerry Brown of California should be fading quietly into the final days of his career. After 40 years in public life, Mr. Brown, 79, a Democrat, is in the final stretch as the state’s chief executive. He has been talking about the Colusa County family ranch where he wants to retire. And a battery of younger politicians is already battling to succeed him.

But instead, Mr. Brown was in China on Tuesday, emerging as a de facto envoy from the United States on climate change at a time when President Trump has renounced efforts to battle global emissions. In a meeting packed with symbolism — and one that seemed at once to elevate the California governor and rebuke Mr. Trump — President Xi Jinping of China met with Mr. Brown, at the governor’s request, at the very moment China prepares to take a more commanding role in fighting climate change.

“California’s leading, China’s leading,” Mr. Brown said at a wide-ranging and at times feisty news conference after he met with Mr. Xi. “It’s true I didn’t come to Washington, I came to Beijing. Well, someday I’m going to go to Washington, but not this week.”

Mr. Brown has long used his platform as governor to advocate emission reduction policies, both in his state and globally. But the decision by Mr. Trump to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, on the eve of Mr. Brown’s trip here, gave an already planned visit new visibility. [Continue reading…]

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Senior diplomat in Beijing embassy resigns over Trump’s climate change decision

The Washington Post reports: The No. 2 diplomat at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing resigned Monday, telling staff his conscience would not permit him to formally notify the Chinese that the United States is withdrawing from the Paris climate accord.

David H. Rank, a career Foreign Service officer of 27 years, had been acting ambassador until former Iowa governor Terry Branstad (R) was confirmed as the new ambassador last month. Rank held a town meeting with embassy employees to explain he had offered his resignation and it had been accepted.

As the head of the embassy until Branstad arrives, it was Rank’s responsibility to deliver a formal notification of the U.S. intention to withdraw from the climate pact.

According to a State Department official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to be more candid, Rank was unwilling to deliver the demarche.

He told his staff that as “a parent, a patriot and a Christian,” he could not in good conscience play a role in implementing President Trump’s decision to withdraw, according to a colleague familiar with Rank’s comments. [Continue reading…]

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Angela Merkel hopes to forge an international alliance against Trump

Der Spiegel reports: Many had thought that Trump could be controlled once he entered the White House, that the office of the presidency would bring him to reason. Berlin had placed its hopes in the moderating influence of his advisers and that there would be a sharp learning curve. Now that Trump has actually lived up to his threat to leave the climate deal, it is clear that if such a learning curve exists, it points downward.

The chancellor was long reluctant to make the rift visible. For Merkel, who grew up in communist East Germany, the alliance with the U.S. was always more than political calculation, it reflected her deepest political convictions. Now, she has — to a certain extent, at least — terminated the trans-Atlantic friendship with Trump’s America.

In doing so, the German chancellor has become Trump’s adversary on the international stage. And Merkel has accepted the challenge when it comes to trade policy and the quarrel over NATO finances. Now, she has done so as well on an issue that is near and dear to her heart: combating climate change.

Merkel’s aim is that of creating an alliance against Trump. If she can’t convince the U.S. president, her approach will be that of trying to isolate him. In Taormina, it was six countries against one. Should Trump not reverse course, she is hoping that the G-20 in Hamburg in July will end 19:1. Whether she will be successful is unclear.

Trump has identified Germany as his primary adversary. Since his inauguration in January, he has criticized no country — with the exception of North Korea and Iran — as vehemently as he has Germany. The country is “bad, very bad,” he said in Brussels last week. Behind closed doors at the NATO summit, Trump went after Germany, saying there were large and prosperous countries that were not living up to their alliance obligations.

And he wants to break Germany’s economic power. The trade deficit with Germany, he recently tweeted, is “very bad for U.S. This will change.”

Merkel’s verdict following Trump’s visit to Europe could hardly be worse. There has never been an open break with America since the end of World War II; the alienation between Germany and the U.S. has never been so large as it is today. When Merkel’s predecessor, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, refused to provide German backing for George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq, his rebuff was limited to just one single issue. It was an extreme test of the trans-Atlantic relationship, to be sure, but in contrast to today, it was not a quarrel that called into question commonly held values like free trade, minority rights, press freedoms, the rule of law — and climate policies. [Continue reading…]

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Majority of Americans oppose Trump scrapping Paris agreement

The Washington Post reports: Most Americans oppose President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, with a majority saying the move will damage the United States’ global leadership, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Opposition to Trump’s decision outpaces support for it by a roughly 2-to-1 margin, with 59 percent opposing the move and 28 percent in support. The reactions also break down sharply along partisan lines, though Republicans are not as united in support of the withdrawal as Democrats are in opposition to it. A 67 percent majority of Republicans support Trump’s action, but that drops to 22 percent among political independents and 8 percent of Democrats. Just over 6 in 10 independents and 8 in 10 Democrats oppose Trump’s action. [Continue reading…]

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Donald Trump’s triumph of stupidity

Der Spiegel reports: Until the very end, they tried behind closed doors to get him to change his mind. For the umpteenth time, they presented all the arguments — the humanitarian ones, the geopolitical ones and, of course, the economic ones. They listed the advantages for the economy and for American companies. They explained how limited the hardships would be.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was the last one to speak, according to the secret minutes taken last Friday afternoon in the luxurious conference hotel in the Sicilian town of Taormina — meeting notes that DER SPIEGEL has been given access to. Leaders of the world’s seven most powerful economies were gathered around the table and the issues under discussion were the global economy and sustainable development.

The newly elected French president, Emmanuel Macron, went first. It makes sense that the Frenchman would defend the international treaty that bears the name of France’s capital: The Paris Agreement. “Climate change is real and it affects the poorest countries,” Macron said.

Then, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reminded the U.S. president how successful the fight against the ozone hole had been and how it had been possible to convince industry leaders to reduce emissions of the harmful gas.

Finally, it was Merkel’s turn. Renewable energies, said the chancellor, present significant economic opportunities. “If the world’s largest economic power were to pull out, the field would be left to the Chinese,” she warned. Xi Jinping is clever, she added, and would take advantage of the vacuum it created. Even the Saudis were preparing for the post-oil era, she continued, and saving energy is also a worthwhile goal for the economy for many other reasons, not just because of climate change.

But Donald Trump remained unconvinced. No matter how trenchant the argument presented by the increasingly frustrated group of world leaders, none of them had an effect. “For me,” the U.S. president said, “it’s easier to stay in than step out.” But environmental constraints were costing the American economy jobs, he said. And that was the only thing that mattered. Jobs, jobs, jobs.

At that point, it was clear to the rest of those seated around the table that they had lost him. Resigned, Macron admitted defeat. “Now China leads,” he said.

Still, it is likely that none of the G-7 heads of state and government expected the primitive brutality Trump would stoop to when announcing his withdrawal from the international community. Surrounded by sycophants in the Rose Garden at the White House, he didn’t just proclaim his withdrawal from the climate agreement, he sowed the seeds of international conflict. His speech was a break from centuries of Enlightenment and rationality. The president presented his political statement as a nationalist manifesto of the most imbecilic variety. It couldn’t have been any worse. [Continue reading…]

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France’s Emmanuel Macron: Birth of the anti-Trump?

Hugh Schofield writes: Emmanuel Macron has just won the rare distinction of being the most re-tweeted French person in history.

In less than 24 hours, his Trump-defying message “make our planet great again” was shared more than 140,000 times, easily ousting the previous record-holder, the rather less high-minded TV presenter Cyril Hanouna. One fifth of the re-tweets were in the US.

It is proof yet again that what we witnessed from the Elysee on Thursday was a master class in communications.

In giving his TV reaction to the US president, not only did Macron break brazenly with longstanding convention, according to which French presidents never speak publicly in English, but he even had the chutzpah to subvert the US leader’s personal campaign slogan.

“Make our planet great again” was a provocation dressed up as a call to virtue. As a catchphrase for the faithful, it was irresistible.

By tweeting it, Macron took one more step down his road to investiture as that long-awaited international figure: the anti-Trump. Continue reading…]

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The U.S. is the biggest loser on the planet thanks to Trump’s calamitous act

Vicki Arroyo writes: Life here in the US feels surreal lately, like a very bad reality TV show, thanks to Donald Trump. In no case is this more evident than the president’s decision – and the process and theatre around it – to abandon the Paris climate agreement and nearly every other country in the world.

The Paris agreement was a groundbreaking deal that allowed each country to decide its own contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Even though it is non-binding, the agreement puts the world on the path to keep global temperatures from rising more than 2C, which scientists warn would be disastrous for our planet.

By abandoning the agreement, we are not only ceding global leadership but also effectively renouncing our global citizenship. The US is joining Nicaragua (which felt the agreement did not go far enough) and Syria (in the midst of a devastating civil war) as the only nations without a seat at the Paris table. As an American, I am embarrassed and ashamed of this abdication of our responsibility, especially since the US has been the world’s largest contributor of carbon emissions over time. We have become a rogue nation.

This action will not put “America first”. Instead, we risk becoming, to cite an actual reality TV show, the “biggest loser” in a global race towards a new, more vibrant and innovative clean energy economy.

Trump’s dubious claims regarding the impact of the Paris agreement have been widely discredited. No amount of rhetoric will bring back coal and nothing will stop the explosive growth of clean energy jobs. Already, wind and solar employ nearly three times as many people as the coal industry does, according to the Department of Energy’s 2017 energy and employment report.

Trump claimed he was elected to represent Pittsburgh, not Paris. Pittsburgh’s mayor, William Peduto, fired back: “President Trump’s decision is disastrous for our planet, for cities such as Pittsburgh.” In fact, the once smoke-choked industrial city highlights the enormous benefits that come from adopting cleaner energy, as called for under the Paris agreement. The city is a recognised leader for investments in green infrastructure (green roofs, urban forest projects, etc) that create jobs, reduce emissions and protect citizens from climate impacts such as increased urban heat island effect and more intense storms. Pittsburgh has been named the US’s “most livable city” six times since 2000 exactly because of this. [Continue reading…]

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How the GOP leaders were persuaded to cast climate change as fake science

The New York Times reports: The Republican Party’s fast journey from debating how to combat human-caused climate change to arguing that it does not exist is a story of big political money, Democratic hubris in the Obama years and a partisan chasm that grew over nine years like a crack in the Antarctic shelf, favoring extreme positions and uncompromising rhetoric over cooperation and conciliation.

“Most Republicans still do not regard climate change as a hoax,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican strategist who worked for Senator Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign. “But the entire climate change debate has now been caught up in the broader polarization of American politics.”

“In some ways,” he added, “it’s become yet another of the long list of litmus test issues that determine whether or not you’re a good Republican.”

Since Mr. McCain ran for president on climate credentials that were stronger than his opponent Barack Obama’s, the scientific evidence linking greenhouse gases from fossil fuels to the dangerous warming of the planet has grown stronger. Scientists have for the first time drawn concrete links between the planet’s warming atmosphere and changes that affect Americans’ daily lives and pocketbooks, from tidal flooding in Miami to prolonged water shortages in the Southwest to decreasing snow cover at ski resorts.

That scientific consensus was enough to pull virtually all of the major nations along. Conservative-leaning governments in Britain, France, Germany and Japan all signed on to successive climate change agreements.

Yet when Mr. Trump pulled the United States from the Paris accord, the Senate majority leader, the speaker of the House and every member of the elected Republican leadership were united in their praise.

Those divisions did not happen by themselves. Republican lawmakers were moved along by a campaign carefully crafted by fossil fuel industry players, most notably Charles D. and David H. Koch, the Kansas-based billionaires who run a chain of refineries (which can process 600,000 barrels of crude oil per day) as well as a subsidiary that owns or operates 4,000 miles of pipelines that move crude oil. [Continue reading…]

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Trump’s reneging on Paris climate deal turns the U.S. into a rogue state

Joseph Stiglitz writes: Donald Trump has thrown a hand grenade into the global economic architecture that was so painstakingly constructed in the years after the end of the second world war. The attempted destruction of this rules-based system of global governance – now manifested in Trump’s withdrawal of the United States from the 2015 Paris climate agreement – is just the latest aspect of the US president’s assault on our basic system of values and institutions.

The world is only slowly coming fully to terms with the malevolence of the Trump administration’s agenda. He and his cronies have attacked the US press – a vital institution for preserving Americans’ freedoms, rights and democracy – as an “enemy of the people”. They have attempted to undermine the foundations of our knowledge and beliefs – our epistemology – by labelling as “fake” anything that challenges their aims and arguments, even rejecting science itself. Trump’s sham justifications for spurning the Paris climate agreement is only the most recent evidence of this.

For millennia before the middle of the 18th century, standards of living stagnated. It was the Enlightenment, with its embrace of reasoned discourse and scientific inquiry, that underpinned the enormous increases in standards of living in the subsequent two and a half centuries.

With the Enlightenment also came a commitment to discover and address our prejudices. As the idea of human equality – and its corollary, basic individual rights for all – quickly spread, societies began struggling to eliminate discrimination on the basis of race, gender, and, eventually, other aspects of human identity, including disability and sexual orientation.

Trump seeks to reverse all of that. His rejection of science, in particular climate science, threatens technological progress. And his bigotry toward women, Hispanics, and Muslims (except those, like the rulers of Gulf oil sheikhdoms, from whom he and his family can profit), threatens the functioning of American society and its economy, by undermining people’s trust that the system is fair to all.

As a populist, Trump has exploited the justifiable economic discontent that has become so widespread in recent years, as many Americans have become downwardly mobile amid soaring inequality. But his true objective – to enrich himself and other gilded rent-seekers at the expense of those who supported him – is revealed by his tax and health-care plans. [Continue reading…]

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Trump believes money comes first — he doesn’t care about climate change

The press is currently engaged in an investigation of kinds about what Donald Trump currently believes about climate change.

Does he, as he has previously claimed, believe it is “a total, and very expensive, hoax!”? Or has he modified his earlier views?

On Friday, White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, claimed, “I have not had an opportunity to have that discussion.”

Inside the White House in recent days, aside from the ever present issue of what everyone needs to do to avoid getting thrown in jail, the issue of Trump’s statement on Paris must have been the center of many discussions during which Spicer was present. He might be afraid of asking questions, but he hasn’t lacked the opportunity to learn what Trump and his closest advisers think.

At the same time, we can confidently assume that during the period leading up to Trump’s “decision,” he was not engaged in an intense analysis of climate science and strategies for mitigating the global rise in greenhouse gases. That would have gone beyond Trump’s severely limited intellectual capacities and far beyond his level of interest in the issue.

What we do know is what Trump said on Thursday afternoon:

… the United States will withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord … but begin negotiations to reenter either the Paris Accord or a really entirely new transaction on terms that are fair to the United States, its businesses, its workers, its people, its taxpayers. So we’re getting out. But we will start to negotiate, and we will see if we can make a deal that’s fair. And if we can, that’s great. And if we can’t, that’s fine.

What’s clear from this statement is that the heart of the issue for Trump is the cost. It’s all about money.

While Trump’s ignorance is perhaps unfathomable, we do know this much about how he views transactions: they involve an exchange of money. You pay something; you get something. And if you’re great at making deals, you get something that’s worth more than you paid for it.

If Trump believes that climate change is a hoax, then negotiating to reenter the Paris accord would be like negotiating how much you’re willing to pay for a building that doesn’t exist. The only fair deal would be no deal — there would be nothing to negotiate.

Needless to say, Trump’s proposition that the U.S. might renegotiate the accord is itself a hoax — he and the rest of the world knows this isn’t going to happen.

The issue here does not actually revolve around beliefs. It’s not a question of who is convinced or remains skeptical about the established conclusions of climate science.

Instead, it’s like this:

A chain-smoker talks to his doctor and his doctor tells him: “You need to stop smoking. These cigarettes are killing you.”

In response, the smoker has little interest in whether he was given sound medical advice. He simply knows that he enjoys smoking and has no intention of quitting.

For Trump and other addicts of the fossil-fuel lifestyle, the question of whether they are killing the planet is for them of little interest. All they care about is their attachment to their own lifestyle — to hell with humanity and the fabric of life on Earth.

The idea of exchanging a Suburban for a Prius is so offensive to their sense of material entitlement, it is for them immaterial what kind of rationale or what indisputable facts might justify this kind of lifestyle change.

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Americans don’t need Washington to meet our Paris commitment

The New York Times reports: Representatives of American cities, states and companies are preparing to submit a plan to the United Nations pledging to meet the United States’ greenhouse gas emissions targets under the Paris climate accord, despite President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the agreement.

The unnamed group — which, so far, includes 30 mayors, three governors, more than 80 university presidents and more than 100 businesses — is negotiating with the United Nations to have its submission accepted alongside contributions to the Paris climate deal by other nations.

“We’re going to do everything America would have done if it had stayed committed,” Michael Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor who is coordinating the effort, said in an interview.

It was unclear how, exactly, that submission to the United Nations would take place. Christiana Figueres, a former top United Nations climate official, said there was currently no formal mechanism for entities that were not countries to be full parties to the Paris accord.

Ms. Figueres, who described the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw as a “vacuous political melodrama,” said the American government was required to continue reporting its emissions to the United Nations because a formal withdrawal would not take place for several years.

But Ms. Figueres, the executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change until last year, said the Bloomberg group’s submission could be included in future reports the United Nations compiled on the progress made by the signatories of the Paris deal.

Still, producing what Mr. Bloomberg described as a “parallel” pledge would indicate that leadership in the fight against climate change in the United States had shifted from the federal government to lower levels of government, academia and industry. [Continue reading…]

Michael Bloomberg writes: In the U.S., emission levels are determined far more by cities, states, and businesses than they are by our federal government.

Over the past decade, the U.S. has led the world in emission reductions – and our federal government had very little to do with it. It happened because of leadership from cities, public opposition to coal plants, and market forces that have made cleaner sources of energy – including solar and wind – cheaper than coal. It makes no sense to pay extra to poison our environment – or to kill jobs. And the clean energy industry is now creating far more jobs than we are losing in the fossil fuel industry.

The fact of the matter is: Americans don’t need Washington to meet our Paris commitment, and Americans are not going to let Washington stand in the way of fulfilling it. That’s the message mayors, governors, and business leaders all across the U.S. have been sending.

So today, we want the world to know: The U.S. will meet our Paris commitment, and, through a partnership among American cities, states, and businesses, we will seek to remain part of the Paris Agreement process. The American government may have pulled out of the Agreement, but the American people remain committed to it – and we will meet our targets. [Continue reading…]

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Donald Trump plays at being president. He doesn’t even pretend to be a world leader

At this stage in his performance — this act in The Trump Show which masquerades as a presidency — it should be clear to the audience that the motives of the man-child acting out in front of the world are much more emotive than ideological.

Trump has far more interest in antagonizing his critics than pleasing his base.

No doubt Trump came back from Europe believing that after suffering insults, he would get the last laugh. A senior White House official (sounding like Steve Bannon) described European disappointment about Trump’s decision on Paris as “a secondary benefit,” implying perhaps that the primary benefit would be the demolition of one of the key successes of his nemesis, Barack Obama.

Thus far, The Trump Show has largely been ritual designed to symbolically purge America of Obama’s influence.

To that end, Trump’s announcement on the Paris climate accord was turned into a Rose Garden event with live jazz. Had the “guests” been served with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres as they awaited the showman’s arrival, this would have been perfectly in keeping with the light, celebratory tone the White House wanted to set.

This wasn’t the articulation of a policy shift; it was a victory dance.

Before the star of the show came to the podium, his sycophantic, spineless sidekick, Mike Pence, gave Trump a predictably syrupy and fanciful introduction to applause and cheers from the goons (White House staffers?) whose role, whenever required, is to conjure the appearance of Trump’s popularity.

At the heart of this show is a man poisoned by the sense that he has always been deprived of the admiration he deserves. He postures as the golden glowing embodiment of success in his relentless effort to avoid being confronted with the reality of his pitiful worthlessness.

Right now, there is no one else on this planet who is despised as much as Donald Trump and there is no show, no executive order, and no tweet, that can undo this fact.

There is, however, a silver-lining to the disaster named Trump.

In the growing recognition that the United States currently effectively has no president, there are others capable and willing to step into the power vacuum. This is happening both outside and inside the U.S..

The Trumpsters might believe they are steering a course towards splendid American isolation, but much more likely they are deftly and unintentionally engineering their own marginalization.

Their grasp on power is tenuous; every loyalist is just a back-stabber in waiting.

Daniel Baer, Daniel Benjamin, Hal Brands, Reuben Brigety, Sharon E. Burke, Derek Chollet, Sheba Crocker, Dan Feldman, Jon Finer, Nina Hachigian, Colin H. Kahl, Kelly Magsamen, Jeffrey Prescott, Ely Ratner, Vikram Singh, Julie Smith, Jake Sullivan, and Jim Townsend write at Foreign Policy: Ever the showman, President Donald Trump tweeted Wednesday about his soon-to-be-announced decision on whether or not to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement with the air of a 1950s Las Vegas emcee building up his audience’s anticipation for an upcoming act. But the decision to remove the United States from the long-negotiated, hard-fought, international agreement is no sideshow. This is about what’s in the best interests of American prosperity and security.

As promised, Trump stepped to the podium in the Rose Garden on Thursday afternoon, announcing that the United States would leave the Paris accord. The decision will have serious, irreversible repercussions for the United States and the world.

The president’s justifications for leaving the agreement are also just plain wrong.

First, contrary to the president’s assertions, America’s hands are not tied and its sovereignty is not compromised by the Paris climate pact. The Paris agreement is an accord, not a treaty, which means it’s voluntary. The genius (and reality) of the Paris agreement is that it requires no particular policies at all — nor are the emissions targets that countries committed to legally binding. Trump admitted as much in the Rose Garden, referring to the accord’s “nonbinding” nature. If the president genuinely thinks America’s targets are too onerous, he can simply adjust them (although we believe it would be shortsighted for the administration to do so). There is no need to exit the Paris accord in search of a “better deal.” Given the voluntary nature of the agreement, pulling out of the Paris deal in a fit of pique is an empty gesture, unless that gesture is meant to be a slap in the face to every single U.S. ally and partner in the world.

The second big lie is that the Paris agreement will be a job killer. In fact, it will help the United States capture more 21st-century jobs. That is why dozens of U.S. corporate leaders, including many on the president’s own advisory council, urged him not to quit the agreement. As a letter sent to the White House by ExxonMobil put it, the agreement represents an “effective framework for addressing the risk of climate change,” and the United States is “well positioned to compete” under the terms of the deal.

Action on climate and economic growth go hand in hand, and are mutually reinforcing. That is why twice as much money was invested worldwide in renewables last year as in fossil fuels, and why China is pouring in billions to try to win this market of the future. A bipartisan group of retired admirals and generals on the CNA Military Advisory Board is about to release a report that will also spell out the importance of competitiveness in advanced energy technologies — not just to the economy, but also to the country’s standing in the world. Pulling out of climate will result in a loss of U.S. jobs and knock the United States off its perch as a global leader in innovation in a quickly changing global economic climate.

The rationale for ditching America’s commitment to the Paris accord just doesn’t hold up. Moreover, Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement comes with several serious and lasting consequences for the United States and the world:

The Trump administration is hastening catastrophic effects of climate change. Scientists and economists now state with confidence that the failure to act to arrest and mitigate global climate change will have devastating global consequences, including for young Americans alive today and for their children and grandchildren. Donald Trump himself may well live to see more climate-related catastrophes hit the homeland. His children and grandchildren certainly will.

Americans all over this country are already seeing the changes — storms are more severe, big floods come more often, and in the most extreme case, Arctic waters are melting and opening up sea lanes for the first time in recorded history. Trump saw the damage from Hurricane Sandy firsthand, a preview of what climate change has in store for his children and grandchildren. Scientists and economists now state with confidence that the failure to act now to arrest and mitigate global climate change will have devastating global consequences,

Heading off the worst effects of climate change requires global action: Action by one country alone, no matter how powerful, cannot address the threat. But our country, one of the world’s two largest carbon emitters, does have significant power to improve not just our own climate, but the world’s — and Trump’s decision takes us in the wrong direction. That’s especially tragic in light of the signature achievement of the Paris Agreement, which was to get every country on board; now China and India have made the same commitments the United States and other highly developed countries have. It binds us all together through a political agreement — but the strength of that agreement depends on all of us meeting our nationally determined responsibilities.

Put simply, the U.S. decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement will have impacts on the global climate that a future U.S. administration will not be able to undo. It will undermine the most significant and comprehensive coordinating mechanism for global action to combat climate change that we have. It will weaken an existing asset to defend present and future generations of Americans against a significant threat; it will undermine our security. Indeed, leading military experts, including Secretary of Defense James Mattis, have warned that the impact of climate change will lead to more refugee flows, more famine, more conflict, and more terrorism. As Mattis said, “Climate change is impacting stability in areas of the world where our troops are operating today.” By withdrawing from this agreement, Trump would be ignoring an issue his own secretary of defense has said is a national security threat. [Continue reading…]

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