The error of exiting the Paris Accord

Miami Herald Editorial Board

President Donald Trump arrives to make his statement on U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Accord.
President Donald Trump arrives to make his statement on U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Accord. TNS

Unfortunately, President Donald Trump announced Thursday that the United States is withdrawing from the Paris Accord, an international agreement sealed in 2015 to limit rising global temperatures by reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.

With this move, the United States relinquishes leadership in the battle against global warming and its pernicious consequences: pollution — the air in some cities, such as Beijing and Mexico City, is often unbreathable — rising sea levels, which will inundate coastal areas and cause enormous losses and human displacement; and abrupt changes in the ecological balance.

The effects are already visible in coastal regions, and especially in South Florida, where municipalities, namely Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale, have signed an agreement to combat the phenomenon with ecological measures.

But Trump refuses to see this reality.

“Today, the United States will cease all implementation of what is known as the Paris Accord and the heavy financial and economic burdens imposed on our country,” he said from the Rose Garden.

The president said that the United States would begin to negotiate a re-entry in the agreement with a view to reaching what he called “a fair agreement.”

He elaborated, saying: “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. As president, I cannot put another consideration ahead of the well-being of Americans.”

But here’s the thing: Trump is losing sight of the fact that Americans’ welfare is directly linked to the battle against the harmful effects of global warming.

More than 120 million Americans live in counties that are on the coasts and would be affected by rising sea levels.

At the political level, with this absurd withdrawal from the Paris Accord, Trump takes another step to isolate the United States on the world stage.

Last week, in Brussels, Trump’s disdain for the pacts made German Chancellor Angela Merkel say what was once improbable — that Europeans can no longer rely on the United States as an ally.

With this action and others, President Trump is hamhandedly dismantling the international order forged after World War II. It is unquestionable that this world order has many defects. But the near consensus, as exhibited by the Paris Accord’s more than 190 signatory nations, acknowledging climate change, is not one of them.

Now, Trump is dangerously creating a vacuum that Russia and China could fill. How is that to the benefit of America’s national interests?

Trump scorned the findings of the global scientific community and entreaties from energy giants like Exxon, General Electric, and Chevron — plus daughter Ivanka — to remain in the pact.

Trump’s most loyal followers, no doubt, will see the withdrawal as a campaign promise kept: “America First.” But if the most powerful nation in the world renounces its obligation to help protect the planet, those followers will also be among those harmed in the near future.

If coal makes the vaunted comeback that the president promises, robots, not his supporters, will be doing the bulk of the work. The technology is that advanced.

In fact, according to the Department of Energy, there are more than twice as many jobs in solar energy as in coal.

Now that the United States’ foothold in the international fight against the ravages of climate change has slipped, it’s up to renegade states and cities to lead the charge.