The election of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States signals the beginning of the end of international climate alarmism.
Trump’s victory has shaken the green movement to its core and will almost certainly lead to the Paris climate agreement’s unraveling. That conclusion, however, is not how most people at the uneventful UN climate confab, which ended in Marrakech last week, saw it. Many speakers, still in a state of shock, denial and anger about Trump’s victory, resorted to wishful thinking and claimed that the president-elect would change his mind about his pledges, or failing that, could not withdraw from the Paris agreement.
French president Francois Hollande stated that Trump has no option. “This Paris agreement is irreversible, no one can get out of it. And even if he could be tempted, there will be forces, amongst them American democracy, who will ensure that it is respected.” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the Paris climate agreement “has now become unstoppable.”
During his campaign, Trump repeatedly promised to dismantle most of the U.S. climate legislation and initiatives put forth by the Obama administration. He said he would renegotiate or even “cancel” the Paris agreement, in which the Obama administration pledged to reduce CO2 emissions 26 per cent to 28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2025. Ban Ki-moon, however, said he had spoken to Trump recently and was confident he could be convinced to change his mind.
This kind of naive overconfidence shows a distinct lack of political realism. After all, on the Paris deal, Trump has simply stated the official position of the Republican party. What Ban Ki-moon and other international leaders fail to realize — or prefer not to concede in public — is that the next U.S. president has a triple mandate to reverse Obama’s unilateral climate policies.
Firstly, there are Trump’s election pledges during the campaign. In an interview in May, Trump said that his administration would “renegotiate” the Paris climate agreement. Ten days later, Trump presented a 100-day action plan that included a pledge to cancel it altogether. “We’re going to cancel the Paris Climate Agreement and stop all payments of U.S. tax dollars to U.N. global warming programs.”
Secondly, most people seem completely unaware that Trump’s stance on reversing Obama’s green policies is fully shared by the Republican party. The party’s election platform, approved at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July, rejects the Paris agreement outright. “We reject the agendas of both the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement, which represent only the personal commitments of their signatories; no such agreement can be binding upon the United States until it is submitted to and ratified by the Senate.”
Thirdly, the Republican-led Senate has warned international leaders for more than a year that the Senate majority rejects Obama’s Paris deal and that a Republican president would shred it to pieces. Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, has stated in no uncertain terms that the next president would pull the plug. As the Obama administration celebrated its signing of the Paris agreement last year, McConnell said: “The president (Obama) is making promises he can’t keep, writing checks he can’t cash, and stepping over the middle class to take credit for an ‘agreement’ that is subject to being shredded in 13 months.”
In short, Trump has three explicit mandates to reverse Obama’s Paris deal. Moreover, there is little support among the American people for the Paris agreement, and a lot of strong opposition against it.
Obama and European leaders have pledged to create for it an annual US$100-billion climate fund, which is what attracts most of the signatories to the Paris agreement, who expect to be its beneficiaries. There is now zero chance the U.S. will pay them the reward they were expecting. Even in the unlikely event that Ban Ki-Moon, Mitt Romney (being considered for Secretary of State), or the green lobby were to succeed in converting Trump into a supporter of Obama’s Paris agreement, Republican senators would continue to block all funding for its implementation, including any funds for the $100-billion Green Climate Fund without which the Paris agreement would ultimately unravel.