sexta-feira, 18 de novembro de 2016

Trump’s dilemma: to please his friends by trashing the Paris climate deal, or not? / China looks for a new climate dance partner as the US waltzes away

Trump’s dilemma: to please his friends by trashing the Paris climate deal, or not?
Bill McKibben
Friday 18 November 2016 16.58 GMT

If the president-elect sabotages last year’s agreement, he will own every disaster – every hurricane a Hurricane Donald, every drought a moment for mockery

It seems likely that the Paris climate accords will offer one of the first real tests of just how nuts Donald Trump actually is. For a waiting world it’s a public exam, his chance to demonstrate either that he’s been blowing smoke or deeply inhaling.

Think, if you will, of the Paris agreement as a toy painstakingly assembled over 25 years by many of the world’s leading lights. It has now been handed, as a gift, to the new child-emperor, and everyone is waiting to see what he’ll do.

His buddies – the far-right, climate-denying, UN-hating renegades who formed his campaign brains trust – are egging him on to simply break it, to smash it on the floor for a good laugh. In fact, they’re doing their best to give him no way out. “President-elect Trump’s oft-repeated promises in the campaign are fairly black-and-white,” said Myron Ebell, head of his Environmental Protection Agency transition team, last week. (Ebell believes that the Paris deal is an attempt to “turn the world’s economy upside-down and consign poor people to perpetual poverty” – and that climate science is done by “third-rate, fourth-rate and fifth-rate scientists”.)

On the other side are the world’s business leaders, 365 of whom just signed a letter asking Trump to keep America engaged in the Paris process to provide “long-term direction”. These are not people who have spent their lives in obscure rightwing thinktanks. They run stuff – like DuPont, General Mills, Hewlett-Packard, Hilton, Kellogg, Levi Strauss, Nike and Unilever. And it’s hard to run stuff if the rules keep changing

There’s also a gang of Americans who care what the rest of the world thinks. A group of former military leaders this week sent Trump’s transition team a briefing book arguing that climate change presents a “significant and direct risk to US military readiness, operations and strategy”. Ben Cardin, a Delaware senator and the top Democrat on the Senate foreign affairs committee, said withdrawing from the Paris deal would damage “our credibility on other issues”.

And then there’s the rest of the world. Other nations can’t be “weak” or “naive”, said France’s former (and perhaps future) president Nicolas Sarkozy. If Trump pulls the US out of Paris, Sarkozy proposes a carbon tariff on US goods. That won’t happen, but diplomats at the current climate talks in Marrakech have made it clear that leadership on the 21st century’s most important issue would pass from Washington to Beijing.

So Trump faces a dilemma. Does he please his most extreme friends? If so, he will own every climate disaster in the next four years: every hurricane that smashes into the Gulf of Mexico will be Hurricane Donald, every drought that bakes the heartland will be a moment to mock his foolishness. That’s how that works.

Or does he back down? It’s clear he won’t do anything to enforce the Paris accords anyway – to all intents and purposes Obama’s clean power plan expires at noon on 20 January, and Trump’s guys will give the green light to any pipeline anyone proposes. But if he doesn’t actually smash the global architecture of the Paris accords, he’ll win points from responsible people. That’s how that works.

It’s entirely possible he’ll decide to do neither, and send the Paris accords to the Senate for some kind of show vote, letting the entire Republican party take the heat for its climate-denying views. This would demonstrate weakness of a particularly childish sort – the coat-holding boy who goads everyone else into a fight and steps back to watch.

The irony here is that the Paris accords aren’t even very strong. They represent a lowest-common-denominator effort, one that will allow the world’s temperature to keep climbing dangerously. They were passed in no small part to allow the world’s leaders to strenuously pat themselves on the back for having done something. But at least the pact keeps the process moving – and there are mechanisms that might allow the world to ratchet up its efforts as the temperature climbs. It’s a tissue of compromise and gesture, a flimsy bulwark against the climbing mercury and rising sea. But wrecking it would be an act of political vandalism, one that would define Trump’s legacy before he has even taken office.

So we’ll see.

China looks for a new climate dance partner as the US waltzes away
EU, China move to deepen ties. The potential gap left by the US will be difficult to fill.

By KALINA OROSCHAKOFF 11/18/16, 6:12 PM CET Updated 11/19/16, 5:50 AM CET

“I am fully convinced that Europe now has to fill the gap, which the U.S. will leave behind,” Germany's Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks told reporters at the COP22 climate summit in Morocco

MARRAKECH, Morocco — The United States and China went from being the bad boys of global climate diplomacy to its champions.

Now, the tag team of the world’s top two polluters may be undone by Donald Trump, who has pledged to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement.

Some Europeans want the EU to be China’s new climate dance partner.

“We always had very good relations with China, but in view of the coming circumstances, we will become much more active,” said Miguel Arias Cañete, European commissioner for climate action and energy, after meeting China’s chief climate negotiator Xie Zhenhua in Marrakech.

The EU has long played a key role in climate diplomacy. It helped engineer the final push for an agreement in Paris last year by corralling a coalition ranging from sinking island states to big industrial economies like Japan and fast-growing emerging countries like India and Brazil. Europe also pioneered many of the approaches now being pushed more widely around the world, from its Emissions Trading System carbon market, to investing heavily in renewable energy, which has helped push down the price of solar and wind power to levels that are increasingly competitive with coal and gas.

“I am fully convinced that Europe now has to fill the gap, which the U.S. will leave behind,” Germany’s Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks told reporters at the COP22 climate summit in Morocco, where deliberations ended Friday. “As Europeans we have to close ranks with China.”

It’s unclear if Brussels can be the same kind of partner for Beijing as Washington. Unlike a nation state, the EU is a cumbersome and slow-moving body. It took a lot of arm twisting and pressure for the EU to ratify the Paris agreement (something not all member states have completed), a process spurred by panic at being left behind when the U.S. and China took the lead in speedily approving the climate deal earlier this year.

The most likely outcome of a U.S. retreat from climate diplomacy isn’t a Beijing-Brussels axis but a multi-polar world of shifting alliances.
The EU also sends mixed messages on climate change: Brussels is ambitious, and some member countries like Germany — pushing to drop most nuclear and fossil fuels by mid-century — are out in front when it comes to going green. Others like Poland see a long future for coal.

Relations between China and Europe — and in particular Germany — are strong, but it’s not that easy for a bloc of 28 countries to simply decide to take on a new leadership role — even if Germany and the European Commission agree on deepening ties with China to push the climate agenda, a European government source cautioned.

There is “a bit of a question mark what Europe’s leadership capacity will be,” said Liz Gallagher of E3G, an environmental think tank.

Trumpian confusion

China has been taken aback by Trump’s unexpected presidency and its impact on climate policy. Beijing has already fired back at Trump’s 2012 tweet, saying climate change was a Chinese-inspired hoax aimed at harming U.S. business, though it also says the U.S. remains a crucial climate diplomacy partner.

“The recent election of the U.S. has really awakened the world,” said Liu Zhenmin, deputy foreign minister and vice-president of the Chinese delegation. “Of course, people are worried” that the U.S. under Trump will repeat what it did in 2001 under President George W. Bush, when it backed away from the Kyoto Protocol, a pact that set binding targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, he added.

It’s also opened up an opportunity for China to take on a new leadership role. “The way in which China made clear it’s going to continue to move forward and wants to play a leadership role internationally on the issue — I think that stands out,” said David Waskow of the World Resources Institute.

Liu said he hoped China’s place in international climate efforts would grow in the coming years, building on the “very important” role it has already played over the past few years.

Liu offered a mini-history lesson, pointing out that the global climate negotiation process was actually kickstarted under the Republican administration of Ronald Reagan. “That’s why I hope that the Republican administration will continue to support this process,” he said, adding that China “will continue its effort to support the Paris agreement.”

He also said that China would look to “enhance” cooperation with the European Union, the world’s third-largest greenhouse gas emitter.

The most likely outcome of a U.S. retreat from climate diplomacy isn’t a Beijing-Brussels axis to replace the Beijing-Washington one. Instead, a multi-polar world of shifting alliances among the EU, China and big polluters like India may emerge.

“The vacuum left by if the U.S. withdrew, which is still not a foregone conclusion, could be filled by [the EU],” said Thoriq Ibrahim, energy minister for the Maldives and the chair of the Alliance of Small Island States. “But I suspect China, India and other big countries would also take on important leadership roles, as well.”


Kalina Oroschakoff  

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