03 June 2017

Top 5 Reasons US Pulling Out of Paris May Not Be a Bad Thing After All

Snowflakes were melting all over the Internet. The sky was falling and people forgot all about secret messages encoded in typos from the Tweeter-in-Chief.

On Thursday, US President Donald Trump did what everyone suspected he would, despite the advice of some of his closest advisers, corporate heads, and even a family member, he pulled out of the Paris Agreement.

Did President Trump Intend to Poke the Polar Bear?
I'm not convinced he really knows what he did or even what's actually in the Paris Agreement.

Like many of Trump's decisions, this one seemed knee-jerk, ill-informed, and spiteful.

He wants to renegotiate to get a better deal?

The agreement is non-binding, each country gets to set its own targets and decide how to get there, and almost every country is involved.

What more do you want?

Look, I'm not convinced these big global agreements do much good. I've long argued that there's more hot air and fewer teeth in these types of global pacts than a nonagenarian who's just eaten a bowl of chili. 

But with the Paris Accord, at least everyone was participating -- everyone, that is except Syria, which is too war-torn to commit to anything, and Nicaragua, which didn't think the agreement went far enough.

Renegotiate? Come one, Donny, even some of the best deal makers in the world could see this was a pretty sweet deal, considering how much polluting we've been able to get away with over the past 257 years since the start of the Industrial Revolution.

Under the Paris Accord, developed countries will contribute towards the so-called Green Climate Fund, intended to be the main fund for financing global climate change projects in the context of mobilizing $100 billion by 2020. The fund is designed to help poorer countries reduce their emissions and address the impacts of climate change. 

The price tag for the US is a meager $3 billion -- $1 billion of which was already paid by the Obama administration.

Folks, that's less than $10 per person to help fund such projects as "development of irrigation and groundwater replenishment systems in northeastern India, where climate change has made monsoon rains less reliable; a hydropower plant in the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific to eliminate diesel generators; and restoration and protection of Ugandan wetlands that are used by subsistence farmers," according to the New York Times.

(To put this in perspective, Business Insider reported last year that people around the world spent over $10 billion on beverages at Starbucks in 2015. At Starbucks alone!) 

In any event, what's done is done. Well, there is that nasty business of the time it takes to actually withdraw from the agreement. By some estimates, the process won't be completed until the day after the next presidential election in 2020.

The reaction to this threatened withdrawal, however, has prompted some unintended consequences --perhaps Donny really is a genius and his decision was meant to encourage states, cities, companies, and individuals to act, and spur private investment to address climate change. 

Here are my top 5 reasons the US Pulling out of the Paris Agreement may not be a bad thing after all:

1.) Climate change "ratings" went way up. Okay, well, Google searches on "Paris Accord" hit an all-time high on Thursday around 3PM Eastern, and then quickly dropped back down to normal. However, "climate change" tracked along with it on the uptick and, arguably, got more attention in the media in any 24-hour news cycle since Superstorm Sandy hit.

2.) Rather than prompting countries to abandon the Paris Accord, Trump's withdrawal seems to have strengthened the resolve of many of other countries. Some, such as China, see the US withdrawal as an opportunity to increase their share of the pie when it comes to addressing the issue. As Reuters reported on Thursday, China and the EU pledged to come together to fill the leadership void created by the president's decision.

3.) US cities, States, and companies are stepping up their game in response to Trump's trashing of the agreement, as the Times reported Thursday.  

4.) Captains of the private sector, including leaders of Goldman Sachs, Disney, Tesla, and Apple have recommitted to tackling the issue. Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein even joined Twitter to voice his disappointment, and billionaire Michael Blomberg pledged $15 million to help tackle climate change.

5.) Trump's pulling out of Paris may have poked the polar bear. By doing so, he may have awakened a force to be reckoned with -- the many organizations and individuals already committed to finding solutions to the climate change issue, especially those who have been on the front lines of the environment, social justice, and renewable energy for decades. It may also serve as a wake-up call to many others to take action.

In the end, the decision to withdraw may be heralded as a catalyst to finally getting the world to rally around the climate in an unprecedented way. Perhaps not what the Donald intended with his reality-show build-up and reveal in the Rose Garden, but potentially a pretty good ending.