Horowitz: Trump Administration Takes Its Climate Change Denial International
Tuesday, December 11, 2018
At the International Climate Summit in Poland dedicated to ensuring the implementation of the landmark Paris Climate Accords, our nation joined Saudi Arabia, Russia, and Kuwait in advancing a motion to weaken recognition of a recently released International Climate Report prepared by a distinguished group of scientists that warns of accelerated warming. Rather than welcoming the report, which would mean that the Summit mainly accepted its findings, the United States aligned with a small group of oil-producing nations well known for their self-interested climate skepticism.
Describing this alliance of oil-producing nations as an "axis of evil", Michael Mann, a noted American climate scientist, wrote, “It is the fossil-fueled triumvirate of Trump, Putin and Saudi Arabia who have colluded to sell out the future of this planet for their own short-term financial gain.”
To add insult to injury, the United States main contribution to the Climate Summit was to feature the importance of coal and other fossil fuels--the main causes of the greenhouse gases heating up our planet.
These ill-advised actions at the Climate Summit come on top of the United States being the only nation at the recent Group of 20 meeting in Argentina, refusing to sign a joint statement reaffirming the commitment of these 20 economically powerful nations to the Paris Climate Accords. The Trump Administration, of course, has indicated that it intends to withdraw from Paris, despite the fact that the commitments we made are voluntary and could be modified, so it can’t be accused of inconsistency. But what the Trump Administration is doing on this topic is much worse. As Ralph Waldo Emerson famously said. “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”
The International Report that the Trump Administration is essentially rejecting, without citing any specific contrary scientific evidence, predicts that unless the reduction of greenhouse gases is greatly accelerated, there is a strong risk that some of the more dire consequences of climate change could result as early as 2040. The scientists acknowledge that some good steps have been taken, but plainly state the pace of change must greatly increase and soon. As one scientist told ABC News, "The good news is that some of the kinds of actions that would be needed to limit global war warming to 1.5ºC are already underway around the world, but they would need to accelerate. The next few years are probably the most important in our history.”
The news on the climate is better on the domestic front where mayors, governors, business leaders and we citizens are stepping up. Taken together, these actions may very well result in the United States meeting its Paris commitments no matter what the Trump Administration does. But by its ill-advised positions, the Trump Administration is creating the political space for leaders of other nations to evade their commitments. So far, fortunately, steps backward by other nations have been limited. The most disturbing is the new Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s plans to dismantle environmental regulations, which could result in stepped up development in the Amazon, a critical carbon sink that absorbs greenhouse gases. But even Bolsonaro, a right-wing populist in the Trump mold, is saying that he will not withdraw Brazil from the Paris Climate Agreement.
Still, at a critical time, when all the nations of the world need to do more on climate change-not less--the Trump Administration’s proudly championing its "know nothing” approach on the international stage creates a barrier to the progress that must be made to limit global temperature increases and avoid the worst consequences of climate change.
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