Posted by on June 5, 2017

The world news that echoed loudest last week was the announcement that “[t]he United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord,” and “… begin negotiations to re-enter either the [climate agreement] or an entirely new transaction on terms that are fair to the United States”.

Words that set the world on edge.

US Vice-President Mike Pence said the current Paris agreement amounted to “… a transfer of wealth from the most powerful economy in the world to other countries around the planet”.

The US took a bad faith step, given the history of the US emissions and the negotiations to cut them.

Jon Greenberg has published an excellent analysis of the assumptions underpinning the US decision. It’s worth reading if you want to understand what lays beneath US President Trump’s position.

It’s not as if the clock isn’t at three minutes to midnight. The current rate of species extinction is already one thousand times the expected rate if humans were not a factor. The dawn of the next century will grieve the loss of icons–gorillas, polar bears, lions, tuna, sandpipers and warblers, along with thousands of lesser-known species that will be gone as well. It is a sad irony that extinction rates will be greatest where the power of people is the least–Latin America, Africa, Oceania. These are the same regions the Trump’s administration is concerned might ‘benefit’ from the Paris deal.

Not everyone is alarmed. Bill Hare wrote with confidence on Friday that the US step might not spell doom. He believes it may prompt other countries to reaffirm their climate resolve. He may be right. China and Europe certainly reacted by uniting to save what German Chancellor Angela Merkel called ‘our Mother Earth’. India firmed its current commitment. Even Russia remained steadfastly in the Paris tent, at least for now.

I want to believe, but I am concerned that the US actions have set in motion a precedent that threatens to unravel the pittance that Paris achieved–under a dangerous veil of diplomacy where most of us won’t see it.

The US is trying to establish that any country in the future can step outside the agreement, reset their commitment and then join again with a much lower bar. So long as they turn up in 2023 (and every five years after that) and say they’ll do a little more, no other country will complain. Their low bar commitment will not be challenged. We will never hear from the official process that any country is letting everyone else down. No-one will be called to account.

This is the reality of ‘diplomacy’. All because the biggest power in the world did it first. And the EU, China and India know this.

In many ways, the unlikely bond of these three players holds our collective future in their hands. Now we wait to see if the US gets the free ride I fear.

Time will tell. We will know more at the next climate change meeting in Sri Lanka, February 2018.



So what can we, as individuals, do?

Well, we can remind ourselves that we are not alone. And with the strength of our numbers, we can maintain our pressure.

It helps to know that a great many of us care deeply.  While we wait, we can read, and share books and inspiration around.

So, I am giving you a gift of motivation–Green Merchants.

Through literary and narrative journalism, reflective nonfiction or the fascinating insight of fiction, Green Merchants brings you more than 20 environmental authors, including the Willa Literary Award Winner–Junction Utah by Rebecca Lawton, to provoke your thinking about our relationship with the natural world.

It’s inspiring.

It’s simple.

Most of all it’s free!

Let’s not let our spirits be dampened.

Go to the Green Merchants page and select your free eBooks now!

But be quick. The offer ends on the 15th June!



Posted in: Commentary