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Is Putin Keeping Trump Out of Paris?

It seems the only obstacle stopping Trump from staying in Paris – is Russia.

By Nancy Skinner

As this article describes; it’s not Big Oil, Big Business, his own Secretary of State, Chief Economic Adviser, Secretary of Defense, the G-20 and the G-7, his “actual voters polled on it” or even his own daughter, who all support staying in Paris, yet he seems so stumped and has kicked the can several times now.

That leaves one powerful voice: yes, Russia.

The question is: Does he play Checkers or Chess?

By playing Checkers, I mean that he is still mad at how the NATO meeting went down, tweeting at Angela Merkel, mad at CNN for “all this Russia stuff”, mad at his staff for not communicating better, mad at crumbling poll numbers. This is when he usually trips up. This is when he retreats back into Breightbart mode, and listens to a small group of advisers, like Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller, to fire up his base. He could fight back by taking all his marbles, pulling out of Paris, and say something lame like he was “keeping a campaign pledge” (which is crapshoot from all the Pledges he made and reversed).

The problem there is that even his base has changed its views on climate change radically. According to a joint study by George Mason University and Yale’s Center for Climate Communication in the late November of 2016 entitled Trump Voters and Global Warming, had some startling key findings:

  • Nearly three in four Trump voters (73%) say that, the US should use more renewable energy (wind, solar, geothermal). One in three (33%) say we should use less fossil fuels in the future.
  • Almost half of Trump voters (47%) also say the US should participate in the international agreement to limit global warming. By contrast, only 28% think the US should not participate.
  • More than 6 in 10 voters (62%), support taxing and/or regulating the pollution that causes global warming, 3 in 10 (31%) support both approaches, and by contrast, only 2 in 10 (21%) support doing neither.

So these people, who voted for Donald Trump, do not want him to pull out of Paris. So what about the coal miner’s jobs? It’s no secret that market forces (mostly natural gas) have made coal obsolete as it’s cheaper and cleaner. On Thursday, even Trump’s Director of the US Economic Council, Gary Cohn, briefed reporters on Air Force One, about the reality of coal in a new cleaner energy economy, according to CNBC.

The president’s chief economic advisor is casting doubt on the future of U.S. coal, saying it “doesn’t really make that much sense anymore as a feedstock,” directly contradicting President Donald Trump’s repeated promises to revive the struggling coal industry.

Cohn singled out natural gas as “such a cleaner fuel.” By exporting more natural gas and investing in wind and solar energy, the U.S. “can be a manufacturing powerhouse and still be environmentally friendly,” Cohn said.

Ok so his own base doesn’t want him to withdraw. His top economic advisor doesn’t want him to withdraw. Big Businesses has made numerous pleas directly to Trump, to remain in the Paris Agreement, including Exxon and Chevron.

CNN’s Money piece, Big Business Wants Trump to Stick with Paris, includes an extensive list of companies from every sector who have reached out the President. Manufacturing giants like GM, Ford, Dow, BASF are also among the 195 Companies that signed the US Business Climate Pledge.

NBC News reported thirteen of America’s best-known companies — including Apple, Google, Microsoft, Walmart and Bank of America — have pledged $140 billion toward efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

Big business and small businesses alike have much to gain economically (or lose economically if we don’t act).

The World Economic Forum cited tremendous economic opportunity implementing Paris:

In the next 15 years alone, around $90 trillion will go into urbanisation. This gives us a tremendous business opportunity to build low-carbon, more resilient cities that can generate stronger growth and improve our quality of life. This means developing public, non-motorised and low-emission transport, and putting in place renewable energy and efficient waste management.”

And the CEO’s who attend the World Economic Forum issued a powerful Open Letter:

We are CEOs from 79 companies and 20 economic sectors. With operations in over 150 countries and territories, together we generated over $2.1 trillion of revenue in 2014.

In the spirit of the World Economic Forum to foster public-private cooperation, we affirm that the private sector has a responsibility to engage actively in global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and to help the world move to a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy.

We call upon governments to take bold action at the Paris climate conference (COP 21) in December 2015 to secure a more prosperous world for all of us. We are already taking action, and we stand ready to work together with the international community to help deliver practical climate solutions.

Up to $44 trillion could be going up in smoke if the world does not act on climate change, according to research from U.S. banking giant Citigroup.

They looked at two scenarios: if we act or if we do not act. The conclusion was clear: inaction would cost the world $44 trillion by 2060.

So it’s not Big Business, Wall Street, his Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary General Mattis, Chief Economic Advisor, Gary Cohn, his own voters or even his own daughter who want him to withdraw from the 195 nation agreement, that would leave the US, alone with Nicaragua and Syria as the only two nations to sign the accord. Even North Korea signed the Paris Agreement.

His G-20 and G-7 Trips were filled with world leaders strongly making their case to stay part of this historic world agreement.

Yet, he’s undecided. Who could possibly be making the case for staying in Paris so perilous to him, that he keeps punting the ball. Can anyone say it, Russia?

A great piece by Climate Home outlines Russia’s tortured relationship with the Paris Agreement, and Putin has pushed back ratification until his re-election in 2018. (That will be a nail biter).

Donald Trump pushes the United States toward inaction on climate change, he is likely to find an ally in Russia.

Russia is the fifth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world. Yet the plan it submitted under the Paris agreement to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 is one of the weakest of any government and actually permits Russia to increase carbon pollution over time. The Paris agreement went into effect last November, but Russia is the only major emitter that has not ratified it. Instead, it has laid out a timetable that would delay ratification for almost three years.

“Russia will not artificially accelerate the process of ratification of the Paris climate agreement,” Russia’s special presidential representative on climate, Alexander Bedritsky, said last September

Of course, oil and natural gas are the lifeblood of Russia’s economy. They have constructed an extraordinary Arctic base hoping to exploit the melting sea ice and allowing their rigs to move in on what is estimated to be an enormous amount of deep-sea oil.

The implications of methane release that results from such drilling would eviscerate the Climate.

So is he playing Chess actually, basically pissing off the world, knowing that his withdrawal would be perceived as his normal petulant, vindictive, and childish Donald Trump behavior?

If he is playing Chess, possibly fearing Putin’s next move, Donald Trump may have just check-mated the planet’s fate.