John Kerry and his two-year-old granddaughter sign the Paris Agreement on April 22, 2016. Image via Getty.
John Kerry and his two-year-old granddaughter sign the Paris Agreement on April 22, 2016. Image via Getty.

Dust off your protest signs, my pals, because our addled buffoon of a president is reportedly poised to shoot us all in the proverbial foot by pulling the world’s second-largest polluter out of the landmark Paris Climate Agreement.


After months of theatrical indecision, the New York Times reports that Trump is planning on giving a giant middle finger to the rest of the planet by pulling out of the deal, although the “specific language” of the announcement is still reportedly up in the air, and he’s been known to change his mind at the last minute. But Trump, according to the Times, “appears to have decided that a continued United States presence in the accord would harm the economy”—a belief that is exactly incorrect, as the Huffington Post notes:

The economic effects of leaving the Paris Agreement would likely be devastating. The U.S. is poised to lose access to fast-growing clean energy markets as Europe, India and China gain major footholds in an industry estimated to be worth $6 trillion by 2030. Countries that tax emissions could now put a tariff on American-made imports, complicating Trump’s plans to reclaim the U.S. mantle as a top manufacturing hub.

“It’s very clear that the energy economy is heading in a direction that, if you don’t engage with climate change, you’re going to miss out on a large number of jobs that have already emerged,” David Waskow, director of the World Resource Institute’s international climate program, told HuffPost before the announcement. “Withdrawing and retreating would have very negative implications for the U.S. economically.”


The Times notes that while China and the EU have declared their resolve to keep the agreement going with or without the US, many countries that had to be prodded and shoved into the agreement will now feel much freer to do whatever the fuck they want—and even publicly dedicated nations will feel less pressure to live up to their emissions targets.

Without the United States, there is likely to be far less pressure on major polluting countries and industries to accurately report their emissions. There have been major questions raised about the accuracy of China’s emissions reporting, in particular.

“We need to know: What are your emissions? Where are your emissions?” said Todd D. Stern, the lead climate negotiator during the Obama administration. “There needs to be transparent reporting on countries’ greenhouse gas emissions. If the U.S. is not part of that negotiation, that’s a loss for the world.”

That is, an even bigger loss for the world, whose warming temperatures have already triggered extreme weather patterns and set us on a path toward losing our coral reefs and Antarctica’s ice sheet. It was already well-established that the Paris Climate Agreement was not going to be enough to save us in its current form—a fact the Obama administration acknowledged, emphasizing that it provided a framework for stricter targets in the future as clean technology advanced—and that the US itself was likely to fall short of its emissions goals. It was a start, though: a promise to try to clean up our mess, to rise above our easily corrupted short-term-thinking human pea brains and join forces against a looming catastrophe that’s looking increasingly unavoidable.

Rex Tillerson, Trump’s Secretary of State and former Exxon CEO, was reportedly fighting to keep the US “at the table” alongside Ivanka Trump; even some energy companies, including Exxon, Shell, BP, and Chevron, have urged the Trump administration to stay in the deal. Two-thirds of Americans wanted to join the Paris Climate Pact, and multiple surveys have shown that a majority of Americans want to remain in it. But since when has popular opinion, fact, morality or long-term responsibility mattered to the Grand Old Party? Axios reports that a letter sent by 22 Republican senators urging withdrawal from the deal helped cement Trump’s resolve to leave it; this illustrious list of miscreants eager to literally destroy the planet for $$$ includes Mitch McConnell, Jim Inhofe, Ted Cruz, John Cornyn, Rand Paul, Roy Blunt, John Barrasso, Orrin Hatch, and Mike Lee.


To summarize: thanks largely to a bunch of rich men who will be dead soon, the United States will likely join just two other rogue countries—Nicaragua and Syria, one of which is in a civil war, the other angry that the agreement didn’t go far enough—outside the pact. The official response to this is fairly astounding, via Huffington Post:

“Who cares?” Myron Ebell, a top climate change denier who led Trump’s EPA transition team, told HuffPost on Tuesday ahead of the announcement. “If countries are moving in the wrong direction, I don’t think the leader of that movement has much to look forward to. It seems to me that President Trump has a chance to not only turn the direction of the country around but the direction of the world around. Good luck to China.”


Where to even begin?

It’s been tough lately, folks, and increasingly hard to get ourselves riled up about the crisis of the day—such is the magic of our profoundly chaotic leader. It would be good, though, to get riled up about this, because Myron Ebell, in addition to being a piece of shit, is wrong. A majority of us care, and now would be a great time to remind the rest of the world of that powerful fact.

Ellie is a freelance writer and former senior writer at Jezebel. She is pursuing a master's degree in science journalism at Columbia University in the fall.

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