4 November 2019   4 comments

The US has officially given its one-year notice to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. US President Trump gave notice of the intention to withdraw on 1 June 2017, but the Agreement requires a full-year’s notice to leave. That means the US can leave the Agreement on 4 November 2020, the day after the US Presidential election. The announcement justified the action in these terms:

“President Trump made the decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement because of the unfair economic burden imposed on American workers, businesses, and taxpayers by U.S. pledges made under the Agreement.  The United States has reduced all types of emissions, even as we grow our economy and ensure our citizens’ access to affordable energy.  Our results speak for themselves:  U.S. emissions of criteria air pollutants that impact human health and the environment declined by 74% between 1970 and 2018.  U.S. net greenhouse gas emissions dropped 13% from 2005-2017, even as our economy grew over 19 percent.”

Note that the statement uses the time frame of 2005-2017 to document a decline in US greenhouse gas emissions. The data, however, for 2018 was readily available and greenhouse gas emissions in the US rose in that year: “In fact, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions spiked in 2018, seeing a 3.1% increase over 2017.” That increase was due to much more relaxed emission regulations passed by the Trump Administration. The Agreement was hardly a panacea, but it was a start. The Washington Post assesses the success of the Agreement so far:

“Human activities are estimated to have already caused about 1 degree Celsius of warming and are increasing that at a rate of about 0.2 degrees Celsius per decade. The UN World Meteorological Organization reported last year that global temperatures were on track to rise 3 to 5 degrees by the end of this century, well beyond the targeted cap of 2 degrees. Climate Action Tracker, a research project, agrees that current policies and pledges will leave the planet “well above” the Paris accord’s “long-term temperature goal.” Even with the U.S. involved, academics were concerned that the world was headed for “extensive” species extinctions, serious crop damage and irreversible increases in sea levels.

The absence of the US weakens an already weak effort. What is necessary is for the US and other countries to make a much more sustained effort to avert catastrophe.

The US House of Representatives has released a transcript of the testimony of US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. It is a fascinating read, but also a very depressing read. Yovanovitch was pulled out of Ukraine because she was viewed by some in the US government as insufficiently interested in pursuing the theory that Ukraine, and not Russia, was the country that interfered in the US 2016 election. That theory was posited by President Trump in order to undermine the finding of the US intelligence agencies that Russia was the source of misinformation and intelligence leaks. The testimony makes clear that the US State Department was held hostage to the personal political objectives of Mr. Trump and the personal economic interests of Trump’s personal lawyer, Mr. Guiliani. The refusal of the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, to support Ambassador Yovanovitch is an absolute disgrace. According to the New York Times:

“It was Mr. Pompeo who helped Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani oust the respected American ambassador to Ukraine, Marie L. Yovanovitch, in April. Both Michael McKinley, a senior adviser to Mr. Pompeo and a four-time ambassador, and Philip T. Reeker, the acting assistant secretary for Europe, testified that they asked State Department leadership to defend Ms. Yovanovitch from false accusations, only to be rejected. Mr. McKinley said he personally urged Mr. Pompeo three times to issue a defense; the revelation of that detail in a transcript released on Monday undercut a declaration Mr. Pompeo made in an interview last month that he ‘never heard’ Mr. McKinley ‘say a single thing’ about Ms. Yovanovitch’s ouster…

“Many diplomats now contend that Mr. Pompeo has done more damage to the 75,000-person agency than even his predecessor Rex Tillerson, an aloof oil executive reviled by department employees.”

The subversion of the State Department by Administration officials is a legacy that will take years to repair. On a more sordid note, Yovanovitch was told that if she wanted to save her job as Ambassador, she needed to issue Tweets praising Trump.

Posted November 4, 2019 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

4 responses to “4 November 2019

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  1. The first part of the post reveals a dangerous reality.
    “Elections are won by domestic vote not foreign policy”

    In a world increasingly connected and dependent. It’s difficult for governments to continue a foreign policy if it’s election manifesto said otherwise (well of course).

    The problem is how domestic vote is dependent on short term relief for the people. Who, if they don’t see change in that small time of 5 years, will go for another option.

    This makes things all the more complicated, since the same foreign policy change (even if it means isolationist policy) that was supposed to provide ease for the people as quickly as possible makes a long term gain impossible. Hence, more problems for the future.

    I can’t sum it up, but don’t you think this is pretty interesting. All this complication

    Like

  2. A good example of this would be my country (again), though it’s not a foreign policy example
    Where the government that was elected in 2013, pursued economic policies of relief. Keeping the rupee artificially high, providing easy markets and shoring up debt.

    The next government, in a heated election manifesto, unaware of the problem declared a change in 100 days. Even going as far as to say they would die in a ditch (sound familiar) then ask IMF for a bail. The problem, they hit quicksand when they came into power, and had to opt for a bail package.

    This frustrates people, who are unaware of the real probs. It makes world politics problematic since things are too interconnected to be decided by a farmer or a high school student alone (Well that went somewhere else…)

    Like

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