Donald Trump vs. the world: Virtually no one agrees with the president on Paris

It’s Trump against the world.

CREDIT: Pexels
CREDIT: Pexels

The Paris climate agreement has done what few international pacts have ever been able to do. It has united oil companies, environmental groups, CEOs, labor leaders, socialists, Wall Street titans, Catholics, Buddhists, atheists, and the leaders of nearly every nation on earth.

The world agrees. Climate change is just that important.

Then came Donald Trump. The president has turned his decision of whether to honor or renege on his country’s commitment to the Paris agreement into a global reality show — with a formal announcement coming Thursday at 3 p.m. from the White House Rose Garden. If he pulls out, as promised, Trump will flout the consensus of the world’s most powerful nations — including China, India, and members of the European Union — that we must urgently tackle the carbon crisis. The United States would join Nicaragua and Syria to become one of just three nations on Earth who have not signed onto Paris.

To understand why the agreement is so popular, it’s helpful to take a look at who supports the pact and who has pushed for Trump to abandon it. There is almost total agreement from the private sector and civil society that the United States should stick with Paris. But the holdouts have an outsized influence on the president.

Here’s a partial list of influential people, private businesses and other organizations who support Paris. The breadth of this lineup is staggering.

A majority of adults in every state supports staying in the Paris Agreement. CREDIT: Yale Program on Climate Change Communication
A majority of adults in every state supports staying in the Paris Agreement. CREDIT: Yale Program on Climate Change Communication

The opposition is far more narrow. Those calling for Trump to pull out of Paris are largely right-wing ideologues.

People may forget, but the opponents of Paris are a small minority. On climate change, there is consensus. The world is moving forward, and by fighting the tide of progress, Trump is creating turmoil.

Set aside the grim science of climate change. Set aside the cost — in human life and prosperity — of rising seas, powerful storms, and punishing heat. Set aside the threats to our national security as drought and famine destabilize vulnerable regions, spurring the rise of extremist groups like ISIS and Boko Haram. There are numerous reasons to stay in the Paris agreement.

Fossil fuel giants want to stay in the agreement because major trade partners like Canada, Mexico, and France may enact a carbon tax on U.S. goods if Trump pulls out. Generals, admirals, and politicians on both sides of the aisle support the pact because leaving the agreement would wound relations with our closest allies. America’s largest corporations have pleaded with Trump to support the accord because they want market certainty, which depends on sensible and predictable public policy. Instead, Trump has delivered chaos.

Put more succinctly:

Why would Trump pull out? The president’s motives are inscrutable, but his chief influencers have made their intentions clear. Bannon and Pruitt are ideologues who maintain that climate science is a farce and believe government has no role in regulating industry. They are flanked by right-wing media who have lambasted the Paris accord since before the ink was dry, and by the throngs of Trump supporters who cheered when the president promised to “cancel” the agreement.

The president and his advisors will likely frame this as an example of Trump refusing to stoop to foreign powers. Paris is a “bad deal,” they’ll say, and Trump put “America first.”

But, this decision defies the narrative Trump has spun about himself. Trump is allegedly a man of the people, but on this issue, he has dismissed the preferences of the large majority of Americans. Trump says he is willing to spurn right-wing orthodoxy, but on this issue he toed the party line. Trump touts himself as a shrewd negotiator, but he is walking away from deal that would allow the United States to avoid trillions in damages in exchange for relatively modest emissions cuts.

Trump has shown, once again, that he is a showman. He has kept the world waiting with repeated promises of a big announcement, a spectacle fit for prime time. His supporters will applaud. His detractors will groan. Everyone will tune in.

Trump may win the ratings war, but he will lose the goodwill of nearly every nation on Earth.

Jeremy Deaton writes for Nexus Media, a syndicated newswire covering climate, energy, policy, art and culture. You can follow him at @deaton_jeremy.