U.S. withdrawal from Paris Accord and the urgent need for a new system

The following is a rough transcript from “By Any Means Necessary with Eugene Puryear,” a daily podcast on Sputnik News.

President Trump is about to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement. The agreement was hailed as a landmark for pulling the planet back from the brink of destruction but Trump has been telegraphing since his campaign that he wants to pull out.

Trump’s hostility to the Paris Climate Agreement is not surprising. He has surrounded himself with climate deniers and vowed to roll back environmental regulations on just about everything.

He has appointed as his EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt who previously had spent almost his entire career trying to destroy the EPA. He appointed Myron Ebell to lead his EPA transition team, despite the fact that Ebell is a non-scientist that says all scientists are lying about climate change being real.

At one point on the campaign trail Trump called climate change a “Chinese hoax” designed to lure America into economically ruinous policies. Which is ironic since China is actually making lots of money on clean technology turning itself into a world leader on the subject. It is also possible that US imports could start to be harmed by the efforts of some countries to tax carbon emissions.

Trump has also tried to eliminate the Clean Power Plan, without which the US will never meet the goals set in Paris. That deal is already stayed in the courts but Trump ordered a broad review to roll-back whatever he can. He has taken steps to supercharge the pipeline building process, and almost certainly will not give up on opening vast new areas of public land to drilling for oil. Trump is even on quixotic quest to restore the coal industry, something even the coal industry doesn’t really think is possible.

So the Paris Climate Agreement withdrawal makes perfect sense in that context. Trump is part of a revanchist sector of the American ruling class, from the most heavily polluting industries that have been trying to do what cigarette companies did for decades. Essentially wage a guerilla war against science to prevent any major legislation that harms their profit making. They want to the rollback of all environmental regulations no matter the costs to humans and the environment more broadly.

But wait, a ton of large energy companies and other major corporations have asked Trump to stay in the deal. What’s that about?

Which brings us to our second issue, which is the Paris Climate Talks led to an agreement that will probably not come close to doing enough to actually save the planet from being destroyed.

Major countries and corporations are under quite a bit of pressure to do something about Climate Change, something that can be noted by the 61% of Americans who support America staying in the deal. So the Paris Climate talks were, like the Kyoto Accords, designed to create the impression major change was being pursued when really it was just changes around the margins.

James Hansen, the world’s most prominent climate scientist called the agreement a “fraud.” Hansen stated: “It’s just worthless words. There is no action, just promises.” He then went on to tangentially note the profit motives behinds fossil fuels saying “As long as fossil fuels appear to be the cheapest fuels out there, they will be continued to be burned.”

More technically GreenPeace noted: “The deal sets out the objective of limiting temperature rises to 1.5 degrees, but the emissions targets on the table take us closer to 3 degrees.” Kumi Naidoo, GreenPeace International Director, went on to say: “There’s not enough in this deal for the nations and people on the frontlines of climate change. It contains an inherent, ingrained injustice. The nations which caused this problem have promised too little help to the people who are already losing their lives and livelihoods.”

Erich Pica, President of Friends of the Earth added “The Paris agreement is not a fair, just or science-based deal. The United States has hindered ambition. The result is an agreement that could see low-lying islands and coastlines swallowed up by the sea, and many African lands ravaged by drought.”

In reality it seems that the only way to actually reach the goal of keeping global temperatures below a two degree rise is to keep 80% of all fossil fuels in the ground. Obviously a task no major corporation or country is willing to take-up. It is also worth noting that we are at about a one degree increase now. As notes  “we’re already seeing more storms, flooding, heatwaves, drought, and island nations at risk of going underwater.” So even limiting the rise below two degrees means we are moving towards a much different, scarier, less just, and more violent world.

So in reality we need to transition to 100% renewable energy essentially right away, starting now. There are a number of proposals and plans but all of them would mean a major change in how we structure our society: one that essentially eliminates the imperatives of private profit over investments in essentially everything, and a dynamic democratic process to determine and allocate resources based on capabilities, needs, and wants of the human family.

That’s called “socialism” and Trump removing the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement is a great opportunity to remind people again why we need it. Our lives literally depend on it.


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