Tag Archives: Paris Climate Agreement

Trump to World: Drop Dead; USA to World: Help US!

Donald Trump, in the Rose Garden, announces his decision to withdraw the United States from Paris Climate Agreement, effectively flipping the bird to the world © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

Donald Trump has declared the US will withdraw from the landmark Paris Climate Agreement – leaving behind 194 countries to join Syria and Nicaragua (which didn’t sign because the accord didn’t go far enough) as the only countries not to pledge cooperation in meeting this existential crisis. There needs to be repercussions, within the US and from outside.

It isn’t enough to upend NATO and the United Nations. Trump has to flip the bird on the entire planet. Why? Because he can. Because he is an arrogant fool; a little man who gets orgasmic pleasure out of being able to bully the whole world.

But he is supported by Mike Pence, Scott Pruitt and most Republicans. How has it happened that Climate Change has become a test of tribal membership?

Because climate change is a stand -in for preserving the power of the status quo (the Elites as Trumpers would mock). And in a society where cash is equivalent to political power, there is desperation to keep profit on one side of the ledger.

The rise of Silicon Valley during the Clinton era disrupted the Old World fossil-fueled industrial-military complex. We even renamed our époque, displacing the Industrial Age with a new label, the Information Age and now The Digital Age.

It wasn’t just the economic transition that was feared, Climate Change – like the Information Age – was a move toward globalization (underpinning Obama foreign policy), threatening to undermine tribal controls and nationalism. In contrast, Trump’s “America First” doctrine is founded on the notion that the world is a giant arena of competing nations, with winners and losers – evoking the image of the Roman Colosseum where gladiators battled to the death.

Indeed, Trump justified withdrawing from the Paris Accord not because he challenged climate science, but on bogus claims that it threatened “sovereignty” and would weaken the US economy in order to give advantage to China and India (“They are laughing at us”). These are demonstrable lies:  the Paris Accord is voluntary, nations came up with their own plan to meet their own targets, there are no penalties or enforcement mechanism.

As for the lie about hurting the economy: the US has the strongest economy on the planet – growing a steady 2% is decent for a mature economy , adding 11 million jobs under Obama with the fastest growth (to 9.8 million) in clean energy jobs (growing at 10 times the rate in the economy and 2.5 times the number of fossil fuel jobs);  you can look at the renaissance in Pittsburgh from a steel town to a green city where 80% voted for Clinton (“I was elected to represent Pittsburgh, not Paris,” Trump ridiculously declared.)

But what is the real fear?

Adherents of Climate Action have a sense of being a citizen of the world with a greater responsibility beyond one’s own national interest, undermining the national government’s authority and control – the direct opposite of Trump’s “America First” doctrine. International cooperation is essential to solve this existential crisis facing the planet.

But the United States has a unique responsibility – we are the biggest carbon polluter in history, generating 4 times greenhouse gas-emissions per person than China, a country with 4x the population, and 10x India, and  disproportionately responsible for the damage done to coastal communities and island nations, for famine-stricken Africa and cyclone-battered Philippines, as much as flooded Louisiana and scorched California.

Climate Action also requires that “sustainability” be factored in as a cost of doing business – which means, at least initially, a slight cut into shareholder profits until the technology and use thresholds turn in favor of clean-renewable energy sources and conservation. But shareholders don’t actually get “profits” from the companies –the extra cash is used to pay for lobbyists and to fund campaigns for or against politicians.

Climate activists – the new gen Environmentalists – are seen as communal, as in “communist” or “socialist” and a threat to capitalism, the same source of antagonism to single-payer health care.

Moreover, a citizen of the world is more accepting of diverse cultures, religions, and personal persuasions. Their openness to cultural differences and open-mindedness makes them a threat to evangelicals and orthodox religionists as well as authoritarian nationalists.

That is basis for common cause between the Religious Right and Capitalists going back to the 1960s (coinciding with the birth of the Environmental, Anti-War, Civil Rights and Women’s Rights movements, all upending the power structure).

Pulling out of Paris may be more symbolic action – a gigantic middle finger to the world, and heaven help us if other countries use it as an excuse to abandon their commitments – but what Trump is actually doing is more harmful by reversing all the policies and programs that Obama had in place that enabled the US to reduce its carbon emissions to 1990s levels.

Trump, in attempting to “soften” the blow of rejecting the Paris Accord, asserted that the US has already reduced its carbon emissions to 1990s level. But that is solely due to Obama policies, regulations and programs including incentives to create clean renewable energy industry, that Trump is aggressively overturning with vengeance. For example, he is giving a free pass to coal companies to dump waste into streams, reversing the Clean Power Plan (which allowed states to come up with their own standards to comply with the goals), overturning protections in marine sanctuaries and national monuments to allow drilling and mining. His budget ends investments and tax credits to develop clean, renewable energy, as well as funding for the EPA.

Donald Trump with Scott Pruitt, a long-time climate denier and tool of the Fossil Fuel industry, who as Oklahoma AG regularly sued President Obama over climate actions, is now EPA Administrator and the chief cheerleader for Trump to withdraw the US from the Paris Climate Accord © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Instead of the US being a global leader, as under Obama, Trump is turning the US into a pariah. And the US would deserve it.

Trump said that “the world is laughing at us” – more of a symptom of his psychosis – but now, Putin and China are in fact laughing. China now has opening to be the world leader while Russia is ecstatic over America’s retreat from moral leadership – what country would trust any “deal” with the US?

But the damage to the US economy, to public health, to infrastructure, to the nation’s ability to innovate by tying us to a dirty, destructive and finite fossil fuel, forcing American families to pay through their noses for expensive fossil fuels and repair the damage caused by climate catastrophes, not to mention the threats to national security because of increased conflict and deprivation (200 million climate refugees) will also weaken this nation. Rome comes to mind.

What’s to be done?

Every signatory to the Paris Accord should impose tariff or carbon fees on US imports.

Those millions who marched and now feel like frustrated, forgotten fools must continue to march, rally, protest not at the White House but at local Congressional offices; vote out politicians who don’t support Climate Action.

Consumers need to seek out companies that practice sustainability and overtly reject those that don’t. Use social media to promote or pan.

Investors need to divest of stocks in companies that reject sustainability; instead invest in bonds that build such things as water treatment plants, clean-energy utilities.

Support organizations like the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC.org), Environmental Defense Fund (EDF.org), League of Conservation Voters (LCV.org), the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth (foe.org) which variously are suing the Trump Administration, as well as local, grassroots organizations like Reach Out America (reachout-america.com) and Citizens Climate Lobby (citizensclimatelobby.org) which has local chapters.

Thankfully, states and localities are taking matters into their own hands. The Climate Revolution will continue, against our own federal government.

NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo, talking up what will be the nation’s largest offshore windfarm, off Long Island, has joined with California Governor Jerry Brown to form the US Climate Alliance © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

California Governor Jerry Brown, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo and Washington State are holding fast to their goal of transitioning to clean, renewable energy, forming the United States Climate Alliance (which so far also includes Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia) and together with cities like New York City and Atlanta (accounting for 30% of the world’s economy), will keep the US from going into a fossil fueled abyss.

“The White House’s reckless decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement has devastating repercussions not only for the United States, but for our planet. This administration is abdicating its leadership and taking a backseat to other countries in the global fight against climate change,” Governor Cuomo said. “New York State is committed to meeting the standards set forth in the Paris Accord regardless of Washington’s irresponsible actions. We will not ignore the science and reality of climate change which is why I am also signing an Executive Order confirming New York’s leadership role in protecting our citizens, our environment, and our planet.”

“Climate change presents the greatest threat humankind has ever known,” stated Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA). “We simply cannot afford to let this president unravel the progress on climate change we’ve made as a nation and a global community. Retreating from the global climate effort would damage our diplomatic credibility, set the U.S. further behind in the clean energy movement and devastate countless communities and ecosystems in the United States. Once again, the recklessness and ignorance of this president have dealt an irreparable blow to our planet and American leadership.”

“President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement is an abdication of American leadership and an international disgrace,” stated Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vt). “At this moment, when climate change is already causing devastating harm around the world, we do not have the moral right to turn our backs on efforts to preserve this planet for future generations.

“The United States must play a leading role in the global campaign to stop climate change and transition rapidly away from fossil fuels to renewable and more efficient sources of energy. We must do this with or without the support of Donald Trump and the fossil fuel industry.”

______________________

© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

US Climate Alliance Adds 10 New Members Committed to Upholding Paris Accord

Wind turbines in Rhode Island, a new member of the US Climate Alliance. “Rhode Island may be a small state, but climate change can have a big impact on our communities,” said Rhode Island Governor Gina M. Raimondo. “We are determined to fight climate change from the front lines so that we can preserve our environment – including our Narragansett Bay – for future generations and create good-paying, future-proof jobs in the process.” © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The U.S. Climate Alliance – formed by the governors of California, New York and Washington State –  announced that Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia have all joined the coalition, which is committed to upholding the Paris Accord and taking aggressive action on climate change.

In response to President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Accord, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., and Washington State Governor Jay Inslee formed the Alliance to convene U.S. states committed to achieving the U.S. goal of reducing emissions 26-28 percent from 2005 levels and meeting or exceeding the targets of the federal Clean Power Plan.

With input from all participants, the U.S. Climate Alliance will also act as a forum to sustain and strengthen existing climate programs, promote the sharing of information and best practices, and implement new programs to reduce carbon emissions from all sectors of the economy.

“As the federal government turns its back on the environment, New York and states across the country are picking up the mantle of climate leadership and showing the world it’s possible to address climate change while also creating good-paying careers,” said Governor Cuomo. “The U.S. Climate Alliance is committed to meeting the standards set forth in the Paris Accord regardless of Washington’s irresponsible actions. We welcome these 10 new members and look forward to collaborating and maintaining the momentum in the global effort to protect our planet, while jumpstarting the clean energy economy.”

“The President has already said climate change is a hoax, which is the exact opposite of virtually all scientific and worldwide opinion,” said Governor Brown. “I don’t believe fighting reality is a good strategy – not for America, not for anybody. If the President is going to be AWOL in this profoundly important human endeavor, then California and other states will step up.”

“Those of us who understand science and feel the urgency of protecting our children’s air and water are as united as ever in confronting one of the greatest challenges of our lifetime,” said Governor Inslee. “Our collective efforts to act on climate will ensure we maintain the U.S.’s commitment to curb carbon pollution while advancing a clean energy economy that will bring good-paying jobs to America’s workers.”

“Connecticut has been a national leader in combating climate change and we have no plans of slowing down our efforts,” said Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy. “In the absence of leadership from the White House in addressing climate change, it is incumbent upon the states to take action in order to protect their residents. We remain committed to meeting the standards set forth in the Paris Climate Agreement because it is the right thing to do for not only the future of our state, but for the future of our planet. I am proud to stand with my fellow governors in support of efforts to reverse the harmful effects of global warming and to send a message to the rest of the world that we accept the science of climate change and we will not let the misguided beliefs of a few ruin our planet.”

“Delaware is the country’s lowest-lying state and with 381 miles of coastline, climate change is a very real threat to our future,” said Delaware Governor John Carney. “As sea levels rise, more than 17,000 Delaware homes, nearly 500 miles of roadway and thousands of acres of wildlife habitat including our critical wetlands are at risk of permanent inundation. Rising average temperatures and an increase in extreme weather events also pose health risks to Delawareans, and threaten our economy. The U.S. should lead in the global fight against climate change. Delaware is proud to join this coalition of states providing that necessary leadership.”

“As the Commonwealth reiterates its commitment to exceed the emission reduction targets of the Paris Climate Agreement, today we join the U.S. Climate Alliance to expand on our efforts while partnering with other states to combat climate change,” Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker said. “After speaking with Governors Cuomo and Scott, our administration looks forward to continued, bipartisan collaboration with other states to protect the environment, grow the economy and deliver a brighter future to the next generation.”

“I am very pleased to announce that Minnesota will join the U.S. Climate Alliance, to uphold the tenets of the Paris Climate Change Agreement in our state,” said Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton. “President Trump’s withdrawal will cause serious damage to our environment and our economy. Nevertheless, Minnesota and other states will show the world what we can achieve by working together to conserve energy, to use cleaner and renewable energy, and to leave a livable planet to our children and grandchildren.”

“The ‘America First’ doctrine should put our children first too,” said Oregon Governor Kate Brown. “Future generations deserve to inherit a world they can thrive in, not one that plays politics and ignores the fact our climate is changing. Despite the decision by the White House to retreat, it is our moral obligation to fulfill the goals of the Paris Agreement. Oregon will continue to make meaningful strides, with the rest of the world, to ensure our communities and economies adapt to meet the challenge of climate change.”

“Climate change is a real problem for all and requires immediate action to ensure future generations are left with a sustainable planet,” Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló said.“Our administration is committed to protecting the environment. As a Governor, who is also a scientist, I value science and data as primary tools in the decision making process.  As such, I strongly oppose the withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. Our administration understands that all policy decisions even those perceived to being small can have big, lasting effects on our planet.  Puerto Rico, an Island that 3.4 million American Citizens call home, would suffer greatly from the devastating effects of rising sea levels.  But we all stand to lose if we don’t take meaningful action right now.

“We call upon all public officials across our nation to continue to support rules and regulations that protect our environment. As most of the world move forwards, our nation cannot sit idle and lag behind.”

“President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement was a tremendous mistake. Rhode Island may be a small state, but climate change can have a big impact on our communities,” said Rhode Island Governor Gina M. Raimondo. “We are determined to fight climate change from the front lines so that we can preserve our environment – including our Narragansett Bay – for future generations and create good-paying, future-proof jobs in the process. I’m proud to join Governors Cuomo, Brown and Inslee in this effort and hope other governors – from both parties – join as well.”

“Growing our economy and protecting our environment by supporting cleaner and more affordable energy and transportation choices can go together,” said Vermont Governor Phil Scott. “If our national government isn’t willing to lead in this area, the states are prepared to step up and lead. I look forward to supporting continued bipartisan cooperation on these matters and thank Governor Baker, Governor Inslee, Governor Cuomo and Governor Brown for working collaboratively on this important issue.”

“As the first state in the Trump era to take executive action to limit carbon emissions and create clean energy jobs, Virginia is proud to join the Climate Alliance,” said Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe. “President Trump’s announcement to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement does not speak for the states and cities that are committed to fighting climate change and paving the way for a new energy economy. If the federal government insists on abdicating leadership on this issue, it will be up to the American people to step forward — and in Virginia we are doing just that.”

NY, CA, WA Form US Climate Alliance to Counteract Trump’s Withdrawal From Paris Accord

Wind turbines near San Francisco, California. Governor Jerry Brown is leading a newly formed US Climate Alliance of states and cities that want to hold to the Paris Climate Agreement. NY is moving ahead with the nation’s largest offshore windfarm, off Long Island’s coast © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

In response to President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo joined California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., and Washington State Governor Jay R. Inslee in forming the United States Climate Alliance, a coalition that will convene U.S. states committed to upholding the Paris Climate Agreement and taking aggressive action on climate change.

“The White House’s reckless decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement has devastating repercussions not only for the United States, but for our planet. This administration is abdicating its leadership and taking a backseat to other countries in the global fight against climate change,” said Governor Cuomo. “New York State is committed to meeting the standards set forth in the Paris Accord regardless of Washington’s irresponsible actions. We will not ignore the science and reality of climate change which is why I am also signing an Executive Order confirming New York’s leadership role in protecting our citizens, our environment, and our planet.”

New York, California, and Washington, representing over one-fifth of U.S. Gross Domestic Product, are committed to achieving the U.S. goal of reducing emissions 26-28 percent from 2005 levels and meeting or exceeding the targets of the federal Clean Power Plan.

“The President has already said climate change is a hoax, which is the exact opposite of virtually all scientific and worldwide opinion,” said Governor Brown. “I don’t believe fighting reality is a good strategy – not for America, not for anybody. If the President is going to be AWOL in this profoundly important human endeavor, then California and other states will step up.”

“I am proud to stand with other governors as we make sure that the inaction in D.C. is met by an equal force of action from the states,” said Governor Inslee. “Today’s announcement by the president leaves the full responsibility of climate action on states and cities throughout our nation. While the president’s actions are a shameful rebuke to the work needed to protect our planet for our children and grandchildren, states have been and will continue to step up.”

Together, New York, California, and Washington represent approximately 68 million people – nearly one-in-five Americans – and the states account for at least 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. California will continue to work closely together with other states to help fill the void left by the federal government.

With input from all participants, the U.S. Climate Alliance will also act as a forum to sustain and strengthen existing climate programs, promote the sharing of information and best practices, and implement new programs to reduce carbon emissions from all sectors of the economy.

New York’s Climate Leadership

Greenhouse Gas Emission Reductions: Established ambitious greenhouse gas emission reduction targets to reduce emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050. These targets have made New York a leader across the country in fighting climate change.

Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI): Spearheaded the formation of the successful RGGI cap-and-trade program between northeast and mid-Atlantic states, led effort to reduce RGGI’s carbon emission cap by 45 percent in 2014, and recently called for an additional cap reduction of at least 30 percent between 2020 and 2030.

Reforming the Energy Vision: Established a comprehensive energy strategy to make the vision for a clean, resilient, and affordable energy system a reality, while actively spurring energy innovation, attracting new jobs, and improving consumer choice.

Clean Energy Standard: Established the most comprehensive and ambitious clean energy mandate in the state’s history, requiring that 50 percent of electricity in New York come from renewable energy sources like wind and solar by 2030.

Clean Energy Fund: Established a $5 billion fund that is jump-starting clean-tech innovation, mobilizing private investment, capitalizing the nation’s largest Green Bank, and helping eliminate market barriers to make clean energy scalable and affordable for all New Yorkers.

Coal-Free New York: Committed to close or repower all coal-burning power plants in New York to cleaner fuel sources by 2020.

Offshore Wind: Approved the nation’s largest wind energy project off the Long Island coast in 2017 and made an unprecedented commitment to develop up to 2.4 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2030.​

 

Obama: Paris Climate Agreement is ‘Turning Point for the World’

Solar farm in Greece © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Solar farm in Greece © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

by Karen Rubin/News & Photo Features

The fact that nearly 200 countries–representing nearly the entire population of Earthlings–have signed on to the Paris Climate Agreement, pledging to take climate action is, as President Obama said, “a turning point for the world.”

“Together, we’ve shown what’s possible when the world stands as one,” he said in a statement from the White House, December 12:

“Today, the American people can be proud — because this historic agreement is a tribute to American leadership.  Over the past seven years, we’ve transformed the United States into the global leader in fighting climate change.  In 2009, we helped salvage a chaotic Copenhagen Summit and established the principle that all countries had a role to play in combating climate change.  We then led by example, with historic investments in growing industries like wind and solar, creating a new and steady stream of middle-class jobs.  We’ve set the first-ever nationwide standards to limit the amount of carbon pollution power plants can dump into the air our children breathe.  From Alaska to the Gulf Coast to the Great Plains, we’ve partnered with local leaders who are working to help their communities protect themselves from some of the most immediate impacts of a changing climate.”

And doing it all while breaking all records for the longest streak of private sector job creation. “We’ve driven our economic output to all-time highs while driving our carbon pollution down to its lowest level in nearly two decades,” Obama said.

Speaking to detractors are both sides – climate activists who said the agreement does not go far enough, and climate deniers who would reject any action at all, he said, “Now, no agreement is perfect, including this one.  Negotiations that involve nearly 200 nations are always challenging.  Even if all the initial targets set in Paris are met, we’ll only be part of the way there when it comes to reducing carbon from the atmosphere.  So we cannot be complacent because of today’s agreement.  The problem is not solved because of this accord.  But make no mistake, the Paris agreement establishes the enduring framework the world needs to solve the climate crisis.  It creates the mechanism, the architecture, for us to continually tackle this problem in an effective way.

“This agreement is ambitious, with every nation setting and committing to their own specific targets, even as we take into account differences among nations.  We’ll have a strong system of transparency, including periodic reviews and independent assessments, to help hold every country accountable for meeting its commitments.  As technology advances, this agreement allows progress to pave the way for even more ambitious targets over time.  And we have secured a broader commitment to support the most vulnerable countries as they pursue cleaner economic growth.

“In short, this agreement will mean less of the carbon pollution that threatens our planet, and more of the jobs and economic growth driven by low-carbon investment.  Full implementation of this agreement will help delay or avoid some of the worst consequences of climate change, and will pave the way for even more progress, in successive stages, over the coming years.

“Moreover, this agreement sends a powerful signal that the world is firmly committed to a low-carbon future.  And that has the potential to unleash investment and innovation in clean energy at a scale we have never seen before.  The targets we’ve set are bold.  And by empowering businesses, scientists, engineers, workers, and the private sector — investors — to work together, this agreement represents the best chance we’ve had to save the one planet that we’ve got.

“So I believe this moment can be a turning point for the world.  We’ve shown that the world has both the will and the ability to take on this challenge.  It won’t be easy.  Progress won’t always come quick.  “We cannot be complacent.  While our generation will see some of the benefits of building a clean energy economy — jobs created and money saved — we may not live to see the full realization of our achievement.  But that’s okay.  What matters is that today we can be more confident that this planet is going to be in better shape for the next generation.  And that’s what I care about…..our work today prevented an alternate future that could have been grim; that our work, here and now, gave future generations cleaner air, and cleaner water, and a more sustainable planet.  And what could be more important than that?

“Today, thanks to strong, principled, American leadership, that’s the world that we’ll leave to our children — a world that is safer and more secure, more prosperous, and more free.  And that is our most important mission in our short time here on this Earth.

Significantly, the United States, whose Republican rightwingers are the smallest, tiniest minority of 7 billion souls, opted for language – “should” rather than “shall” – in order to bypass the need for Senate ratification of an actual treaty. We’ve seen how treaties, as benign as making America’s standards for disabled people, have been rejected, and the GOP Majority made it clear they would do everything possible – even shutting down the government – to make sure the United States does not do its part. It is notable that the United States represents a mere 5% of the world’s population, but is responsible for 25% of the emissions that are causing climate change. China, the second largest emitter, has four times the population but during the Paris talks, had to issue its first ever Red Alert because air quality was too dangerous due largely to emissions from coal-fired plants.

Without missing a beat, Republican Congressional leaders said they would block whatever action Obama promised, based on the idea that the President “made promises he can’t keep.”

Nesjavellir Geothermal plant in Iceland © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Nesjavellir Geothermal plant in Iceland © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

But as Secretary of State John Kerry responded, 195 countries in the world have signed on to this historic agreement, bringing their own strategies and solutions to the table so they are more likely to follow through (much as the Obama Administration allowed states to develop their own Clean Power Plan solutions, and their own Affordable Care Act solutions). Essentially he is saying that the Republicans are on the wrong side of history, or just plain wrong.

This was the genius of Obama’s strategy, going back to forging a historic joint announcement with China last year that “showed it was possible to bridge the old divides between developed and developing nations that had stymied global progress for so long,” the President said. “That accomplishment encouraged dozens and dozens of other nations to set their own ambitious climate targets.  And that was the foundation for success in Paris.  Because no nation, not even one as powerful as ours, can solve this challenge alone.  And no country, no matter how small, can sit on the sidelines.  All of us had to solve it together.”

He also has managed to bring along many of the world’s most influential companies (not Koch Industries, of course), and billionaires (not the Koch Brothers, of course, who are spending their billions buying sycophant politicians), who are pledged to invest in climate action strategies including developing clean, renewable energy technologies that will shift our economy from its dependence on burning dirty fossil fuels (that’s what has the Koch brothers really worried).

Solar panels on farm buildings in Germany © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Solar panels on farm buildings in Germany © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

But now, it is key that the vast majority of us who want climate action push for Congress (that means getting the GOP to stop blocking) to reauthorize the tax credits for renewable energy industries – solar and wind, in particular – to get a foothold. Solar industry is the fastest growing in the US. This is jobs creation. This is giving households more disposable income by bringing down the cost being extorted for fossil fuels (is anyone giving Obama credit for the fact that gas prices are likely to fall below $2 a gallon for the first time since 2007, as they blamed him when gas prices rose to nearly $5?). This is making communities more energy independent.

You would think that Republicans, whose singular economic policy consists of cutting taxes, especially corporate taxes and taxes that go to the wealthy, would be in favor of tax credits to spur a fledgling industry. But this is clean, renewable energy that threatens the profits and the power of the Old Fossils.

Current legislation could extend the renewable energy production tax credit for wind energy that expired a year ago. Environmentalists are also pushing for the extension of the solar investment tax credit which is set to be significantly reduced next year. And for those GOPers who suggest that the federal government “shouldn’t pick winners and losers” – they refuse to rescind the billions of dollars in subsidies that still flow to fossil fuels (or for that matter, the legislative advantages that are given, in terms of licensing and liability), despite the fact these are some of the most profitable companies in the history of humankind. Here’s a compromise: they should condition those subsidies to Exxon-Mobil, etc. on only what they spend to develop and implement clean, renewable fuels (and not natural gas, which is their big new product).

Wind power in Rhode Island © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Wind power in Rhode Island © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Subsidies to fossil fuels do not expire. Neither should incentives for clean energy. Clean energy is one of America’s fastest growing industries, creating homegrown, well-paying jobs across the country—but failure to extend these tax credits could seriously set back that progress,” stated Heather Shelby Action Network Manager for Environmental Defense Fund Action.

EDF is urging people to contact Congress and urge they support for:

* An extension of the renewable energy production tax credit for wind and other renewable energy technologies, which expired at the end of 2014.

* An extension of the tax incentives for residential and commercial energy-efficient construction, which expired at the end of 2014.

* An extension of the solar investment tax credit for  residential and commercial properties, which will be greatly reduced in 2017.

So what’s in the Paris Agreement? The White House produced a Fact Sheet, breaking it down

FACT SHEET: U.S. Leadership and the Historic Paris Agreement to Combat Climate Change

Today, more than 190 countries came together to adopt the most ambitious climate change agreement in history. The Paris Agreement establishes a long term, durable global framework to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. For the first time, all countries commit to putting forward successive and ambitious, nationally determined climate targets and reporting on their progress towards them using a rigorous, standardized process of review.

The Agreement provides strong assurance to developing countries that they will be supported as they pursue clean and climate resilient growth.  The deal builds on the unprecedented participation of 187 countries that submitted post-2020 climate action targets in advance of the meeting, and establishes a framework to ratchet up ambition by driving down global emissions in the decades to come.

This new global framework lays the foundation for countries to work together to put the world on a path to keeping global temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius and sets an ambitious vision to go even farther than that. This Agreement sends a strong signal to the private sector that the global economy is moving towards clean energy, and that through innovation and ingenuity, we can achieve our climate objectives while creating new jobs, raising standards of living and lifting millions out of poverty.

The Paris Agreement is also the culmination of a broader effort by nations, businesses, cities, and citizens to reorient the global economy to a path of low-carbon growth – progress that will accelerate as a result of the Agreement’s provisions on mitigation ambition, transparency, and climate finance.

An Ambitious Agreement

The Paris Agreement sets forward an ambitious vision for tackling climate change globally. This includes:

  • Strengthening long-term ambition:The Agreement sets a goal of keeping warming well below 2 degrees Celsius and for the first time agrees to pursue efforts to limit the increase in temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius. It also acknowledges that in order to meet that target, countries should aim to peak greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible.
  • Establishing a universal approach for all countries:The Agreement moves beyond dividing the world into outdated categories of developed and developing countries and instead directs all parties to prepare, communicate and maintain successive and ambitious nationally determined climate targets. This approach – where countries set non-binding targets for themselves – paved the way for 187 mitigation contributions this year and will form the basis for a long-term, durable system to ratchet down emissions.
  • Locking in five year target cycles:Under the Agreement, all countries will communicate their climate targets every five years, starting in 2020. Targets must be submitted 9-12 months before they are finalized, creating time for other countries and civil society to seek clarity about the targets submitted.
  • Ratcheting up ambition over time:Each target should reflect progress from the prior one, reflecting the highest possible ambition that each country can achieve. This durable, long term framework will drive greater climate ambition as technologies improve and circumstances change.
  • Rigorous assessment of global climate action:To help inform further domestic and global efforts, the Agreement puts in place a mechanism to assess collective progress on global mitigation action using the best available science. This process will begin in 2018 and occur every five years to help inform countries’ future targets and strategies.
  • Sending a market signal on innovation and technology:The mitigation components of the Agreement, combined with a broad push on innovation and technology, will help significantly scale up energy investments over the coming years – investments that will accelerate cost reductions for renewable energy and other low-carbon solutions.  This set of actions will create a mutually reinforcing cycle in which enhanced mitigation increases investment and enhanced investment allows additional mitigation by driving down costs.

A Transparent and Accountable Agreement

The Paris Agreement establishes a robust transparency system to help make sure that all countries are living up to their commitments. This will send a market signal to the private sector and investors that countries are serious about meeting the targets they have set.  These steps include:

  • Putting in place an enhanced transparency system for all countries:A critical component of the Agreement, the transparency framework agreed to by parties ensures that all countries are on a level playing field with the United States with flexibility for those developing countries with less capacity.
  • Requiring countries to report on greenhouse gas inventories: For the first time, the Agreement requires all countries to report on national inventories of emissions by source. This breakthrough will give unprecedented clarity to the public’s understanding of emissions and pollution in countries throughout the world.
  • Requiring countries to report on mitigation progress:Also for the first time, countries are required to report on information necessary to track progress made in implementing and achieving the targets and strategies countries have put forward.
  • Establishing a technical review process with agreed upon standards:To help ensure countries are meeting transparency requirements, countries are subject to a comprehensive technical expert review process that analyzes whether reporting is in line with the standards adopted. Countries will also engage in a multilateral review with their peers to share their experiences and lessons learned.

An Agreement for a Low-Carbon Future

Tackling climate change will require shifting global investment flows towards clean energy, forest protection, and climate-resilient infrastructure.  Developing countries, particularly the most vulnerable, will need support from the global community as they pursue clean and resilient growth. The Paris Agreement makes real progress on this front by:

  • Providing a strong, long-term market signal that the world is locking in a low-carbon future:The submission of ambitious national targets in five-year cycles gives investors and technology innovators a clear signal that the world will demand clean power plants, energy efficient factories and buildings, and low-carbon transportation not just in the short-term but in the decades to come.  This will make it far easier to draw in the largest pools of capital that need long-term certainty in order to invest in clean technologies.
  • Giving confidence that existing financial commitments will be met:Many developing countries, particularly the poorest and most vulnerable, came to Paris seeking reassurance that a global climate deal is not just about the big emitters but also supports their transition to a low-carbon growth path.  In this regard, we are already making strong progress towards meeting the existing goal to mobilize $100 billion from a wide variety of sources, including both public and private, by 2020. The Paris outcome provides further confidence that this goal will be met and that climate finance will continue to flow.  For the first time, the Agreement recognizes the reality that countries like China are already joining the base of donor countries contributing to climate finance and encourages developing countries to contribute to climate finance, while reaffirming that the United States and other developed economies should continue to take the lead.

These components of the Agreement build on steps the United States took in Paris to demonstrate its commitment to mobilizing finance from public and private sources for both mitigation and adaptation activities in developing countries. These steps include:

  • Launching Mission Innovation:On the first day of the conference, President Obama joined other world leaders to launch Mission Innovation, a landmark commitment to accelerate public and private global clean energy innovation, and dramatically expand the new technologies that will define a clean, affordable, and reliable global power mix.  Twenty countries representing around 80% of global clean energy research and development (R&D) funding base committed to double their R&D investments over five years.  In addition, a coalition of 28 global investors led by Bill Gates committed to support early-stage breakthrough energy technologies in countries that have joined Mission Innovation.
  • Doubling U.S. grant-based public finance for adaptation by 2020: Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the United States will double its grant-based, public climate finance for adaptation by 2020. As of 2014, the United States invested more than $400 million per year of grant-based resources for climate adaptation in developing countries. These investments provide vulnerable countries with support – through both bilateral and multilateral channels – to reduce climate risks in key areas, including infrastructure, agriculture, health and water services.

An Agreement Complemented by Subnational, Private Sector and Citizen Action

Because the Agreement should serve as a floor for future ambitious climate action, complementary actions outside of the Agreement by sub-national governments, enterprising businesses, investors and entrepreneurs, and an enlightened global public are important complements to the Paris Agreement. As part of these global efforts, Americans have demonstrated their dedication to climate action through a wide variety of commitments.

  • Compact of Mayors:117 United States mayors have signed onto the Compact of Mayors pledge. The Compact establishes a common platform to capture the impact of cities’ collective actions through standardized measurement of emissions and climate risk, and consistent, public reporting of their efforts.
  • Under-2 MOU:States including California, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and New York have signed onto the Under-2 MOU.   The MOU commits signatories to cut greenhouse gas emissions 80-95% below 1990 levels, share technology and scientific research, expand zero-emission vehicles, improve air quality by reducing short-lived climate pollutants and assess projected impacts of climate change on communities.
  • American Business Act on Climate Pledge:154 companies have signed the White House’s American Business Act on Climate Pledge.  These companies have operations in all 50 states, employ nearly 11 million people, represent more than $4.2 trillion in annual revenue and have a combined market capitalization of over $7 trillion. As part of this initiative, each company expressed support for an ambitious Paris Agreement and announced significant pledges to reduce their emissions, increase low-carbon investments, deploy more clean energy and take other actions to build more sustainable businesses and tackle climate change.
  • American Campuses Act on Climate Pledge:311 colleges and universities representing over 4 million students have demonstrated their commitment to climate action by joining the American Campuses Act on Climate Pledge.

______________

© 2015 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com,  email krubin723@aol.com. ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin