The man who wrote The Art of the Deal just put a knife into one of the best deals ever negotiated on behalf of this country. His decision Thursday to abandon the Paris climate agreement proves he is in reality one of the worst dealmakers in history.
Of course, with six bankruptcies and an astounding 4,000 lawsuits over three decades, Trump has always been less of a dealmaker and more of a con man, as Michael Bloomberg and so many others have described him.
But exiting Paris makes Trump the villain for all climate disasters to come, simultaneously weakening his presidency and ruining his brand. As well it should: Global commitments to keep cutting carbon pollution under the Paris framework represent the world’s best hope of avoiding catastrophic climate change and economic ruin.
On top of that, the U.S. emissions reduction pledge was the absolute bare minimum we could possibly put on the table and was much weaker than most other rich countries.
That’s why Trump’s claim Thursday he is willing to somehow “negotiate our way back into Paris … or to negotiate a new deal” was rejected just an hour later in a rare joint statement by the leaders of Germany, Italy, and France, who said, “We firmly believe that the Paris Agreement cannot be renegotiated.”
The Chinese are already eagerly assuming a leadership role, since they understand that Paris creates a $50-trillion market for clean energy and climate solutions, a market segment that Trump’s policies and budget abandon. Indeed, because clean energy is the sector most likely to generate tens of millions of high-wage manufacturing jobs in the coming decades, Trump’s abandonment of Paris is just one more way he is hurting the voters to whom he promised an industrial rebirth.
It’s clear neither Trump nor the people who work for him understand what’s in the Paris agreement, let alone what makes it such a good deal for us.
“I have yet to read what the actual Paris Agreement is,” Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told reporters Wednesday, “so before I make an opinion I want to sit down and read it.” Seriously!
Trump’s own ignorance around Paris was revealed when he kept calling it a “bad deal” that he was abandoning until it was renegotiated.
In fact, the analysts at Climate Action Tracker explain, “The US climate plans are at the least ambitious end of what would be a fair contribution.” Our greenhouse gas (GHG) pledge is the equivalent of a 14–17 percent reduction below 1990 levels by 2025. The EU pledge is a 40 percent cut in GHGs from 1990 levels by 2030.
Yet in return for America doing the bare minimum, the other nations of the world unanimously agreed to try to save us from this:
Dust-Bowlification and sea level rise hit Trump voters (in the Southeast, Southwest, and West) especially hard.
Catastrophic global warming — which Trump’s move has now made more likely — threatens us with far more total economic damage than it threatens any other country. That’s because we are the wealthiest country in the world, with the biggest agricultural sector and more than $1 trillion in insured real estate along our coasts.
There’s one final way Trump has screwed America, his voters, and himself by breaking America’s word and abandoning a deal that 190+ nations agreed to after a quarter century of negotiation. The deal is not even binding. The pledges — including ours — are voluntary.
Now it will be vastly harder for Trump to convince any major country to negotiate or renegotiate any deal — including all those trade deals Trump promised his voters he’d fix.
What country will trust his word in any negotiation? Between this move and his disastrous European trip, Trump has abandoned all of the goodwill and world leadership that gave this country so much global influence for so long.
Trump has dealt away America’s moral authority, our world leadership, our environmental security, and our economic future. In return he has gotten absolutely nothing. He may well be the worst dealmaker in U.S. history.