California Gov. Jerry Brown’s released a statement calling President Trump’s decision Thursday to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris accord an “insane course of action.” Brown joins Judy Woodruff to discuss the potential consequences of this withdrawal and how California and other states may move forward on its own without the federal government.
They said they needed a seat at the table during international climate discussions to advocate for coal’s place in the global energy mix. The industry also wants financial support for technology to capture and store carbon emissions, something that could keep coal plants operating longer even as cities, states and other countries work to address climate change.
The United States will withdraw from the international climate agreement known as the Paris accord, President Trump announced on Thursday. He said the U.S. will negotiate either re-entering the Paris agreement or a new deal that would put American workers first. NPR journalists fact-checked and added context to his remarks, including comments about the economy and U.S. energy sector. For more: Here’s what is in the accord, and here’s how the decision could affect the coal industry, the climate, U.S. global leadership, Trump’s public support and the U.S. economy.
In December 2009, climate-watchers the world over were trying to make sense of how the most promising attempt to date at preventing a global climate disaster went so horribly wrong. The Copenhagen Climate Change Conference had just come to a close, and the summit, which had brought together 192 countries, was meant to create the world’s first legally binding treaty on global warming. But in its final days, during negotiations between China and the United States, talks had sputtered, teetered, and ultimately collapsed. To observers eager for good news, the result came as a stunning and disheartening anticlimax.
To most of the West, it appeared that China had come intent on playing the spoiler. The country’s coal consumption had been growing steadily for decades as the government pushed industrialization. In the four years preceding Copenhagen, the country added 500 new 600-megawatt coal plants; it was responsible for more than 40 percent of global coal consumption in 2009. From the outside, the rationale for China’s alleged resistance was rather simple. It just wasn’t in China’s interest to put the brakes on its rapid growth for environmental considerations. What could the country possibly gain by capping emissions?
Back in Beijing, however, there was no doubt about the threat of climate change. Behind closed doors, officials were telling a different story about the failed negotiations in Copenhagen
After weeks of speculation, the White House is expected to renege on America’s commitment to the Paris climate agreement, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.
It’s been less than a year since the U.S. formally endorsed the Paris accord, which has been ratified by 146 other nations since it was agreed upon in December 2015. The agreement calls on countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in a bid to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius.
Though the globe appears off-track to hit this target, many scientists view the deal as an essential step in preventing global catastrophes wrought by drought, devastating storms, coastal erosion and the decimation of aquatic ecosystems like coral reefs due to warming and ocean acidification. The Paris accord also establishes an international bargaining table for the energy industry, given the intimate ties between fossil fuel power plants and greenhouse gas emissions.
What would really happen if we pull out of this deal? What would the Earth look like in 10, in 20, in 50 years without U.S. involvement in the Paris accord? We asked a field of experts.
Responses have been edited for length and clarity.
Editor’s Note (6/1/17): This story has been updated to reflect the Trump administration’s announcement today of its decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement.
Pres. Donald Trump announced today that he would pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord. But whether Trump had kept the U.S. in the agreement or not, his policies—if they all become reality—already had the power to profoundly undermine the nation’s ability to reach the U.S.’s Paris climate goals.
According to a new report (pdf) released by analysts at the recent Bonn climate talks, the president’s rollback of current climate regulations, if successful, could cause the U.S. to release 0.4 gigatonne more carbon dioxide in annual emissions in the year2030 than if those policies remained. That gap gets much larger when the report authors accounted for Trump’s decision to dump the Climate Action Plan, which was created by the Obama administration but has not yet been fully implemented. That would create 1.8 gigatonnes more CO2 in 2030 than the past administration had envisioned—about 31 percent of 2005 U.S. emissions. “This amounts to a very significant reversal of the downward trajectory that U.S. emissions have been on,” explains Bill Hare, one of the report authors and CEO of Climate Analytics, a nonprofit climate science and policy institute. “Under Trump’s policies the U.S. will fall far short of itsParisclimate goals.”
“Scientific rigor and social conscience don’t always go together. Some individuals and some institutions may lack one, the other or both. But together they are a remarkably powerful combination. And we need them both. Because we face some real threats. We face threats from nature—whether it’s the next Ebola or Zika or SARS or pandemic influenza or HIV, it is just a few mutations away.
“Einstein wrote that ‘Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind.’ I’m confident that with your commitment to caring for patients, to advancing knowledge, to social justice, you will help prevent and stop the threat of that infantile disease. Every single one of us has that responsibility.”
Welcome to Transition Studies. To prosper for very much longer on the changing Earth humankind will need to move beyond its current fossil-fueled civilization toward one that is sustained on recycled materials and renewable energy. This is not a trivial shift. It will require a major transition in all aspects of our lives.
This weblog explores the transition to a sustainable future on our finite planet. It provides links to current news, key documents from government sources and non-governmental organizations, as well as video documentaries about climate change, environmental ethics and environmental justice concerns.
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