Futile protest against US climate stance

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defence Secretary James Mattis are visiting New Zealand briefly on Tuesday following their visit to Australia.

Stuff: US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit to New Zealand next week ‘a big deal’

United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrives in Wellington next week, in what’s being called a major show of American interest in the Asia-Pacific region and “big deal” for New Zealand.

Tillerson will meet Prime Minister Bill English and Foreign Affairs Minister Gerry Brownlee in Wellington on Tuesday.

Brownlee said meetings would be held to discuss “some of the world’s most pressing issues and to further promote our economic ties”.

Observers said regional stability, counter-terrorism, and military commitments in Iraq and possibly Afghanistan would be discussed, as would trade issues including the afflicted Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

This is the first major visit from the US since Donald Trump became president in January. The meeting will apparently be for about three hours so there isn’t much time to cover a lot of things.

Brownlee was interviewed on The Nation on Saturday and was asked what would be dealt with:

Well, given you’ve got a short window of opportunity, what’s going to be your number one priority for that meeting?

Well, look, a lot of that discussion will be organised over the next couple of days as we head towards that meeting, but we’ll obviously want to canvass trading relations. We’ll reaffirm the various commitments that we have internationally toward the defeat of terrorism. And I’d also expect that, given the current, or most recent, decision from the US, that there will be some discussion about relative positions on climate change. But in the end, it is the trading relationship but also the people-to-people relationship with the United States, including our involvement in the Antarctic, for example, that are pretty important to us.

Okay, well, on that note, the Prime Minister has expressed some concern that Washington might be a little bit distracted by Trump’s unpredictability and that the nature of that president may be distracting them from things like economic stability and trade and economic growth in the region. Are you going to raise that with Rex Tillerson?

I don’t think we’ll be raising the issues of US political stability. That’s something for the US, not for New Zealand, to comment on.

That was a silly question.

Well, Donald Trump said that he was keeping the faith with the people that had elected him when he pulled out of the Paris Accord this week. Was that the right decision – for him to pull the pin on that?

Well, I can’t comment on what was right or wrong for Mr Trump. What I can say is that the door has been left a little bit open about, perhaps, their rejoining. And I think when you consider that the Paris Agreement’s signed up to by 194 countries, 147 countries have ratified that agreement, and then, of course, the G7 most recently reaffirmed their position as far as climate change is concerned.

But the thing is the US pulling out of it—

So I think the door’s not totally closed.

But do you really think he’s going to come back into the fold on this?

Well, I’m not going to comment on that, because I think the situation domestically in the US is something for Mr Trump to deal with.

That’s correct, it is something for the US to deal with, they know we remain in the Paris Accord along with just about all the rest of the world but there’s just about nothing we can say that would impact on Trump’s decisions.

Both Tillerson and Mattis are on record as acknowledging the problems and risks associated with climate change so there’s not much we can say to them about it, and especially there’s unlikely to be anything we can say that would affect anything.

But the Greens want us to do more. James Shaw: PM must confront US with impact of climate decision

The Green Party is calling on the Prime Minister to invite Pacific Island ambassadors to meet with the US Secretary of State next week so they can explain first-hand the consequences of the US decision to withdraw from the Climate Agreement.

The call comes ahead of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit to New Zealand on Tuesday, and following the decision by US President Donald Trump to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement.

Confronting Tillerson will be futile regarding the US withdrawal from the Paris Accord, and it would be likely to be counter productive to building a good relationship with Tillerson, Mattis and the US.

Andrew Little: English must give strong message to US Secretary of State on climate change

Prime Minister Bill English must voice New Zealand’s concerns in the strongest possible terms when US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visits Wellington next week following President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Accord, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little.

“This decision is a huge setback for the international efforts to turn back global warming. After years of negotiation, the Paris Accord marked a more hopeful approach to the whole issue of climate change with 195 nations signing up.

“Bill English must take a strong stand next week and ensure Rex Tillerson knows the damage that’s been caused to the international campaign by the USA’s withdrawal.

“We can’t now let the USA water down the Paris Accord. Mr Tillerson must be reminded that the world can only combat climate change together and that New Zealand stands shoulder-to-shoulder with other nations which have embraced the challenge.

We can’t ‘let’ the US do anything, they make their own decisions and we don’t get a say. We can’t stop the US from choosing to withdraw, that is their decision.

“Bill English must take a strong stand next week and ensure Rex Tillerson knows the damage that’s been caused to the international campaign by the USA’s withdrawal.

I’m sure Tillerson is already well aware of the potential consequences of Trump’s intention to withdraw the US. There’s nothing we can do apart from stress our continued commitment to the Paris Accord. There’s no stand we can take.

Anthony Robins takes Labour’s ‘stand’ thing further in Once upon a time:

Once upon a time this country stood up to America and said no to nuclear weapons. Now we dare not say yes to saving the planet.

There’s hardly anything similar about New Zealand’s popular anti-nuclear stand against the US. The US withdrawal from the Paris Accord is their decision and has virtually nothing to do with New Zealand.

We can disagree with Trump’s climate stance, but there’s little else we can do about their Paris Accord decision.

It is New Zealand’s choice whether to remain in the Paris Accord or not, and there is no indication our position on that will change – and the US doesn’t appear to be doing anything to try to make us change either.

Reaction to US withdrawal from Paris climate agreement

It was no surprise that Donald Trump announced a US withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, he would have risked serious questions from his support base if he had reneged on one of his biggest campaign promises.

But there has been a lot of criticism from around the world, which not surprising given that the US is one of only three countries that are out of the Paris agreement – and one of those because it doesn’t do enough to combat climate change.

There has been a more mixed reaction from the US. Many have been critical, from corporations to ex-politicians like Michael Bloomburg (Billionaire Michael Bloomberg is launching a coalition to defy Trump and uphold the Paris Agreement) and Arnold (Schwarzenegger on Paris agreement: ‘One man cannot destroy our progress’).

And an ex-President:

But the Trump administration is defending the withdrawal.

“Exiting Paris does not mean disengagement.”

“People have called me a climate skeptic or a climate denier… I would say that there are climate exaggerators.”

“We’ve led with action, not words.”

The action of withdrawal is not leading.

We’re just not going to agree to frameworks and agreements that put us at an economic disadvantage.”

Getting out of step with the rest of the world on climate change may turn out to be more of a disadvantage.

Does President Trump believes climate change is a hoax?

He doesn’t know what Trump believes about climate change? Communications fail big time, whether he doesn’t know or is not disclosing.

There have been a number of claims that Trump doesn’t understand the Paris Accord, or climate change.

Trump’s speech announcing withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate change has been analysed.

Vox: The 5 biggest deceptions in Trump’s Paris climate speech

Yesterday, President Donald Trump gave a speech announcing that the US would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement.

It is a remarkable address, in its own way, in that virtually every passage contains something false or misleading.

1) No, an agreement cannot be both nonbinding and draconian (Spoiler: Paris is the former)

Early on in the speech, Trump said: “Thus, as of today, the United States will cease all implementation of the nonbinding Paris accord and the draconian financial and economic burdens the agreement imposes on our country.”

2) No, Paris cannot be “renegotiated”

Trump said the US will “begin negotiations to re-enter either the Paris accord or really entirely new transaction on terms that are fair to the United States, its businesses, its workers, its people, its taxpayers. So we’re getting out, but we will start to negotiate and we will see if we can make a deal that’s fair. If we can, that’s great. And if we can’t, that’s fine.”

As mentioned above, each country determines its own contribution. That’s why they’re called “nationally determined contributions” (NDCs). Each country is free to revise its NDC at any time — no negotiations needed. If Trump wants different terms he just has to say so.

3) No, abiding by the agreement will not cost the US a bazillion dollars

“Compliance with the terms of the Paris accord … could cost Americans as much as 2.7 million lost jobs by 2025,” Trump said. “The cost to the economy at this time would be close to $3 trillion in lowered GDP and 6.5 million industrial jobs, while households would have $7,000 less income and in many cases, much worse than that.”

To support these ludicrous assertions, Trump cited a study (progress, I suppose!) from National Economic Research Associates. The study was commissioned by the American Council for Capital Formation and the US Chamber of Commerce, two longstanding corporate anti-tax lobbying groups. To help with their lobbying, they needed a study that showed Paris targets would cost a bazillion dollars. So they ordered one from NERA, and NERA, as per its reputation, delivered.

Rachel Becker at the Verge has a great post looking at some of the study’s assumptions. (Washington Post’s FactCheck also has some good stuff on it.) Suffice to say, it’s a model rigged to show high costs. It doesn’t count the value of avoided emissions; tech innovation slows for no apparent reason; businesses do not innovate to avoid costs, they just absorb them. It flies in the face not only of most other models, but of recent experience, in which growth in advanced energy has outpaced even the most optimistic forecasts. The sector is now adding jobs at a faster clip than virtually any other economic sector.

4) No, China and India are not getting away with anything

“Further, while the current agreement effectively blocks the development of clean coal in America,” Trump said, “China will be allowed to build hundreds of additional coal plants. So we can’t build the plants but they can. According to this agreement, India will be allowed to double its coal production by 2020. Think of it. India can double their coal production. We’re supposed to get rid of ours.”

First, side note, it’s not clear that Trump has any clue what “clean coal” means. Insofar as it has any meaning, it means coal plants that capture and bury their carbon emissions. Far from “blocking” the development of clean coal, a commitment to reducing carbon emissions is the only reason to invest in it.

But then, I think Trump just says “clean coal” when he means “coal” because lolnothingmatters.

Second, China is not “allowed” to do anything. Like all other participants, China offered its own NDC and can revise it at any time. The only one in control of China’s policies is China.

Third, China is still building (advanced, cleaner) coal plants because, unlike the US, it does not have access to cheap, abundant natural gas, which has been the main driver of recent US carbon reductions.

Fourth, India (which also won’t be “allowed” to do anything) is, in fact, projected to use more coal, but it is working at breakneck speed to transition. It has pledged to get 40 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2030, which will include building out 100 gigawatts of solar energy by 2022. India is set to pass Japan this year to become the world’s third largest market for solar (after China and the US).

Fifth and finally, we’re not “supposed to get rid of” our coal plants. Coal plants are closing (and not getting built) because coal is getting its ass kicked on the market.

5) No, other nations are not laughing at us behind our backs — or they weren’t, anyway

“The fact that the Paris deal hamstrings the United States, while empowering some of the world’s top polluting countries, should dispel any doubt as to the real reason why foreign lobbyists wish to keep our magnificent country tied up and bound down by this agreement,” Trump said. “It is to give their country an economic edge over the United States.”

Here we come to the root of the matter: tribalism. The tribalist (or “nationalist” as they are often called) sees all relationships, including relationships among nations, as zero-sum contests. There are only strong and weak, dominator and dominated, winners and losers.

For the millionth time, a voluntary deal cannot hamstring anyone, nor can it empower anyone. But the tribalist brain simply cannot grok an arrangement of mutual long-term benefit. So it must be unsavory “foreign lobbyists” trying to get us “tied up and bound down” so that they can drain our precious bodily fluids.

“At what point does America get demeaned? At what point do they start laughing at us as a country?”

We feel ridiculous and weak and the only way to restore our fragile ego is with dominance displays, to show everyone once and for all that we are in charge and the most important.

I think that last paragraph sums up one of Trump’s biggest flaws.

CNN: Author of MIT climate study says Trump got it wrong

>President Donald Trump used a Massachusetts Institute of Technology study to back up his departure from the Paris climate agreement on Thursday. But one of the study’s authors says the President misinterpreted their data, showing “a complete misunderstanding of the climate problem.”

John Reilly, the co-director of the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, told CNN Friday that he was unaware the White House was going to cite the study and only found out that they were mentioned when he was contacted by a Reuters reporter.

<href=”http://news.mit.edu/2016/how-much-difference-will-paris-agreement-make-0422&#8243; target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>How much of a difference will the Paris Agreement make?” — looked at the incremental changes in the accord that would happen if countries kept their promises. It found that over a 5- to 10-year period global warming would slow between 0.6 degree and 1.1 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.

“Even if the Paris agreement were implemented in full,” Trump said Thursday, “with total compliance from all nations, it is estimated it would only produce a 2/10’s of one degree Celsius reduction in global temperature by the year 2100.”

He then held up his hand, pushed two fingers together and said, “tiny, tiny amount.”

Talking points distributed by the White House also explicitly cited MIT.

The comment and the talking points were meant to undercut the efficacy of the Paris agreement, a claim that Reilly says is wrong.

“The whole statement seemed to suggest a complete misunderstanding of the climate problem,” Reilly said. “I think Paris was a very good deal for the United States, contrary to what they are claiming.”

He added: “This one small step with Paris is a necessary step. It is an incredibly important step. If we don’t take the step than we aren’t prepared to take the next step.”

Will Trump or any his supporters care about any of the criticism? Probably not when related to climate change.

But the level of disagreement and criticism from within the US and around the world is likely to be another blow to Trump’s ego.

If there’s a real climate problem God “can take care of it”

There are a number of reports that President Donald Trump is set to withdraw the US from the Paris climate agreement, but Trump continues to send mixed signals.

Politico: Trump expected to withdraw from Paris climate deal

President Donald Trump is planning to pull the United States out of the Paris climate change agreement, a White House official said Wednesday morning — only to have Trump himself revive the suspense less than an hour later.

The withdrawal would fulfill a Trump campaign promise but would be certain to infuriate America’s allies across the globe. It would threaten to destabilize the most comprehensive pact ever negotiated to blunt the most devastating effects of climate change.

Axios first reported the news that Trump would withdraw.

Administration officials sent mixed messages on Wednesday, with some saying they are confident the president will pull out and others urging caution. But officials on both sides of the issue have become increasingly convinced he plans to exit the deal, despite arguments from moderate advisers like Trump’s daughter Ivanka that withdrawing would damage U.S. relations abroad.

Reaction from the international community Wednesday was swift, mostly without mentioning Trump by name. “Climate change is undeniable,” the United Nations tweeted from its official account Wednesday morning, quoting from a speech by Secretary General António Guterres. “Climate action is unstoppable. Climate solutions provide opportunities that are unmatchable.”

A withdrawal would put the US at odds with most of the world.

Meanwhile GOP Congressman: God Will ‘Take Care Of’ Climate Change If It Exists

Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) told a constituent last week that God can solve the problem of climate change if the global phenomenon truly exists.

The 66-year-old Republican, who is a climate change skeptic, made the remark at a town hall in Coldwater, Michigan, on Friday.

“I believe there’s climate change,” Walberg said, according to a video of the exchange obtained by HuffPost. “I believe there’s been climate change since the beginning of time. I believe there are cycles. Do I think man has some impact? Yeah, of course. Can man change the entire universe? No.”

“Why do I believe that?” he went on. “Well, as a Christian, I believe that there is a creator in God who is much bigger than us. And I’m confident that, if there’s a real problem, he can take care of it.”