Profits and Politics Trump the Earth

Although the Paris Climate accord did not go nearly far enough, it was at least an acknowledgement by many nations of our environmental crisis.  The Republican administration’s decision to begin to withdraw from the agreement was more a demonstration of lack of leadership, than anything else.  And further proof of the political system’s corruption by the fossil fuel industry, and wrong economic thinking.

Real economic growth is occurring in those countries that are embracing renewable energy.

Looking at the entire economy, not just foreign investment, China regularly outspends the United States on renewable energy. It invested more than $100 billion in clean energy in 2015, more than double U.S. investment, which spurred robust job growth. Of the 8.1 million renewable energy jobs that exist globally, 3.5 million are in China, compared to less than one million in the United States. And China’s National Energy Administration projects that new investment from 2016 to 2020 will create 13 million jobs in the renewable energy sector.

Report:  China’s Global Renewable Expansion

Way Beyond Paris: Trump’s National Shame — and an Opportunity for All Of Us

Climate Mobilization Director Margaret Klein Salamon issued the following statement:

Obviously, pulling the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement would be destructive to the kind of international cooperation we need against the global threat of climate disruption. It is anti-democratic: an overwhelming majority of Americans support the United States participating in this agreement.

It would be a step backward—one more concession to fossil fuel extremists, who put short term profits over the survival of human civilization and the natural world.

However, we must keep in mind that the Paris Agreement itself is alarmingly gradualist and allows global carbon emissions to keep escalating until 2030, when science, morality and common sense dictate that global emissions must be approaching zero by 2030 at the latest. The Paris Agreement is based on wildly optimistic assumptions both about the sensitivity of the climate system, and about our ability to draw down emissions from the atmosphere in the future.

If the world simply follows the incremental course laid out by the Paris Agreement, civilization is very likely to collapse within this century, perhaps within the lifetimes of many alive today. The fact that so many politicians and major environmental organizations are uncritically championing the Paris Agreement indicates that the US climate movement is out of step with the enormity and urgency of the climate emergency.

While Trump’s decision is a step backwards, let’s not kid ourselves about what the Paris Agreement accomplished. It was a symbolic victory, because the world finally agreed to take action on climate. But the action agreed upon is woefully insufficient to protect the billions of people and millions of species who are in grave danger already.

We need to go way beyond Paris. The climate movement must not simply play “defense,” attempting merely to protect or re-enter the Paris Agreement.

As Trump tries to repeal the Affordable Care Act, progressives are playing offense by aggressively making the case for a single-payer system of “Medicare for All.” Climate-concerned Americans should take a similar approach.

We must use the national wake-up call of Trump’s leadership failure to demand and make possible the scale and speed of action that can actually save our civilization and restore a safe climate for all: a national economic mobilization on the scale of World War II to reach zero emissions, 100% clean energy, and 100% employment in the next decade, and begin removing excess greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

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