I Guess We Won’t Always Have Paris….

When I read that Trump intends to exit the Paris accords, all I could think of was that famous line from Casablanca, “We’ll always have Paris.”

Well, evidently, we won’t.

Permit me to deconstruct Trump’s gift to China, a gift that comes on the heels of his large assist to Putin’s geopolitical ambitions, thanks to his conspicuously lukewarm show of support for NATO.

Stephanie Rule posed an interesting–and illuminating–question to her panel during yesterday’s news broadcast: Since the Paris Accords have no mechanism for enforcement, why exit? If the Administration is convinced that pursuit of a particular goal is inconsistent with American economic interests, why not simply refrain from pursuing that goal?

The answer can be found in Trump’s ego and his animus toward Barack Obama. Failing to enforce a particular element of the Paris agreement would accomplish what Trump says is his goal: protecting American interests (at least as he defines them). But it wouldn’t generate the attention he so obviously craves. And it wouldn’t be yet another public attack on Obama’s legacy.

I’m not a psychiatrist (and I don’t play one on TV), so I don’t know the genesis of Trump’s obvious hatred of Obama. Jealousy is clearly a big part, and I suspect it is magnified by racism: How dare this uppity you-know-what garner the obvious respect and admiration of world leaders who snicker at Trump? How dare he draw far larger crowds? It’s insupportable.

Whatever the psychiatric explanation, Trump’s animus toward Obama and his egomaniacal need to be the center of attention have done significant damage to America’s stature in the world, and that damage is not limited to our moral leadership. His disastrous first international trip convinced our longtime allies that America is currently headed by someone too erratic and ignorant to be trusted. (Think about that when you have to get a visa for your next trip to Europe–a document that was not previously required of U.S. citizens. At least when you return, getting through customs should be a snap: tourism to the United States has dropped dramatically since Trump’s election.)

Power vacuums don’t last; when one country’s global influence ebbs, other countries fill the void. Over the past several years, China has moved aggressively to increase its global reach from South Asia to Africa. Google “China’s growing global influence” and you get thousands of links to articles documenting the country’s strategies and global investments.

In contrast to the Trump Administration’s peevish anti-science posture, China is moving (with most other developed nations of the world)  to shift its economy to clean energy.

As 2017 begins, China is poised to leap ahead of the United States on clean energy to become the most important player in the global market. Last year, China increased its foreign investment in renewables by 60 percent to reach a record $32 billion, according to a new report from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. This includes 11 new overseas investment deals worth more than $1 billion each.

China’s new Going Global strategy for renewable energy was an important instigator of its huge increase in foreign investment in 2016. This is part of a broader picture of overseas investment. Last year, China showed its regional strength by establishing the Asia Infrastructure & Investment Bank and pouring money into the BRICS’ New Development Bank, which made its first loans, all for renewable energy.

And in contrast to Trump’s doomed effort to prop up a dying coal industry, China is generating economic growth through its commitment to renewable energy.

Looking at the entire economy, not just foreign investment, China regularly outspends the United States on renewable energy. It invested more than $100 billion in clean energy in 2015, more than double U.S. investment, which spurred robust job growth. Of the 8.1 million renewable energy jobs that exist globally, 3.5 million are in China, compared to less than one million in the United States. And China’s National Energy Administration projects that new investment from 2016 to 2020 will create 13 million jobs in the renewable energy sector.

People around the world used to study English in the belief that an ability to communicate with the dominant world power was important. I wonder how many people are studying Chinese these days….


  1. Years ago, when a young co-worker just out of college was ruminating about where to put his 401k money, I told him to look at the future of the demographics of the world’s population. China and India had more than one quarter of the world’s people. Who would be the builders and consumers of products? Who would need the resources to do it? Who would be the innovators and risk takers looking for ways to become more efficient? On the darker side, who had a fast growing population in need of new territory and an out-sized military?

    All those questions answered would point to China and India. If the only goal is to become wealthy without regard to social and political concerns, those two countries have become the drivers of new wealth. Only time will tell if their social and political conditions change to accommodate it

  2. When will individual Americans take responsibility for their own climate future? Should Trump pull out of the Paris Accords do we all just throw up our hands and say, “Well, I guess that’s that” and continue with our energy wasteful life style?

    Imagine what would happen if all of us who do believe in science and see the peril we are facing took serious steps to curtail climate change. Imagine if we did more than turn off the lights, drove the car fewer times, cut back on the use of all energy sources. Imagine if people pulled their money out of all investments in oil and coal and their subsidiary companies. Imagine if people turned away from the purchase of gas guzzling cars, particularly SUVs. Imagine if people relentlessly called out the politicians who take money from the industries of dirty energy.

    You do not have to wait for 2018 to vote. You can vote today with your money and how you spend it.

  3. Clean energy is in demand; our economy is built on supply and demand. Trump’s blind stupidity will not kill clean energy, it will just slow the pace of development; it will be required to proceed without government funding for R&D. US industries and corporations have already recognized that the majority of US customers want energy efficient cars and products; Trump cannot and will not reverse that trend. Environmental awareness and energy efficiency are not only good for our planet, corporations have recognized that they are also good business and marketing tools. Trump should switch to decaf, lose his mobile phone and find other employment or just sit home and remember when his bullshit was harmless to most people.

  4. Our shame as a nation at this time, after approximately 4 1/2 MONTHS of Trump, surpasses the combined total shame of all of the dark chapters in our history…and it is escalating daily. In the future, will we need to read European world history books to read the truth of the Trump administration’s “deconstruction” of American government?

    What happened to the Kushner family business in China selling visas and green cards to anyone with $500,000 to invest in a new Trump development in Jersey City, NJ? Or was that a Facebook scam? Do we need to be studying Chinese or Russian as our native language? Maybe that movement a few years ago to designate English as the primary language of the United States should be reactivated.

    “Since the Paris Accords have no mechanism for enforcement, why exit?”

    Trump will make his momentous announcement regarding his decision at 3:30 this afternoon. This is a vital issue regarding the United States’ stand with allies of all major nations; he doesn’t have to exit the Paris Accords to end the EPA here but…when he is gone from the White House it WILL be a national issue regarding maintaining our currently departing allies support in all matters domestic and foreign. What happened to that campaign promise to let Vice President Pence handle all domestic and foreign matters while he concentrates on “Making America Great Again”?

  5. If Republicans are so “Business Oriented”, how can they drop the ball on this?

  6. Amen, Theresa Bowers, Amen!

    I spent my child-rearing years yelling at all five of my children to turn off lights, TVs, stereos, make sure the doors were closed so as not to heat the outdoors, etc. They are grown, as are my grandchildren and a few great-grandchildren; they all seem to be retaliating for my years of yelling by keeping all electrical devices turned on as well as furnaces or air conditioners with a 2 degree change in outdoor temperatures. Then they complain about the high utility rates but I no longer yell; I do tell them my low rates from time to time but the message falls on deaf ears. Theresa; our generation is still saving energy but dealing with the higher utility rates as well as suffering serious health problems caused by pollution in the environment. Hate to admit it but, I failed in my mission to protect my little corner of the world.

  7. Business leaders don’t want Trump exiting the Accord. Even Exxon Mobil supports the Paris Accord. How about the Koch brothers?

    Once again, the American media embarrasses itself. Indiana has now been rated the most polluted state in the Union. We have three super-polluters near Evansville – two more than any other state. Duke Energy and Koch were the top contributors to not just Mike Pence, but hundreds of others. Libertarians who want to eliminate all government operations. They cross state lines funding millions to their candidates who will do their bidding. Do you think it is a coincidence that a state operated mainly by Republicans is the most polluted state?

    Where’s the media coverage? Why aren’t the journalists reading campaign reports? Breaking down all these fraudulent non-profit front groups used to wash the original donor’s hands?

    Nowhere to be found. Why?

    Where do you think all the money is going for ad buys? When the Washington Post’s Jeff Bezos accepted $600 million from the CIA to help buy the Washington Post, do you think there were strings attached?

    Why do you think Citizens United rarely gets coverage in the mainstream media? You’d think our national media would have ripped apart the DNC once their donor list hit the public and they could connect the dots and follow the trail of money.

    Nothing. Nada.

  8. Trump may have spouted about bringing back coal jobs on the campaign trail, but the Rs in congress have been bought and paid for by the corporate oil companies. Those corporations know that they exist in a dying industry and they intend to force the citizens of this country to continue to buy their products until every last penny is squeezed out of oil.

    Meanwhile, they are quietly investing in renewable energy and they do not want anyone else to have access to those future profits until they gain complete control of this future industry and the massive profits that will come with it.

  9. Great piece, as usual, Sheila! All of this is so unbelievably stupid that it nearly defies belief. I have bookshelves here in my home loaded with books on our foreign policy, its history, and government and foreign policy-related issues that I have collected over the years including my old textbooks. I almost want to drape them with black crepe. Almost. I have always taken a small modicum of pride in staying current with everything although at this moment it almost seems like a curse of some kind. Almost.

  10. My personal observations, having just spent about 4 weeks in France, is – believe America is being diminished by Trump. We had multiple conversations with people from throughout the continent asking what has happened to our country? He’s viewed mostly as dangerous by people who have experienced, either personally or via their family’s history, the devastation reckless leaders leave in their wake. I found no satisfactory answer to these inquiries, and mostly made excuses. Nothing like the enthusiasm expressed for President Obama. Those days are past as we sink toward being a second tier player on the world’s diplomatic stage.

  11. 45 obviously wants to eradicate anything that might be deemed Obama’s legacy, but he has another reason for pulling out of the Paris Accord. It seems environmental regulations in European countries made it difficult and time-consuming for him to get permission to build his golf empire in those countries.

    Everything with 45 is personal.

  12. We may not always have Paris, but we DO have you, Sheila. Another astute view of the antics by 45.

    Tourism locally has taken a dive, regardless of the couching by our inimitable VI filter. Talk to anyone on the front lines; the number of visitors has dropped drastically in the past six months.

    As for 45’s shenanigans, including pulling the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement, of course it’s all about attempting to wipe out Obama’s legacy as the first black U.S. president. Of course, it’s all about him and “the show”. He’s our 21st Century P.T. Barnum.

    However, more dangerous are the people behind 45 who positioned him and work the strings. I feel these are the real threats to America. Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, Todd Young, Susan Brooks and others use 45 as their shield as THEY attempt to obliterate Obama’s legacy with the same acrimonious actions. It’s like they have a bad case of diversity in their mouths and they’re doing their damnedest to spit it out.

    Removing these insidious self-absorbed MISrepresentations of the majority of Americans, by revising voting districts, getting rid of gerrymandering, and loosening voting requirements (such as overturning the ridiculous mandate by the Marion Co. voting board to allow only ONE early voting site in a county with a population of 900,000) is a start.

  13. Whether Trump decides today to stay in or vacate the Paris Accord is almost immaterial since by even suggesting such a possibility the damage has been done. If, for instance, he decides to stay (doubtless with changes he wishes to make in the substance of the Accord or even if not) he has demonstrated his instability of purpose and could vacate the Accord next week if any decision he makes in such connection is challenged. Thus temperment becomes the setting for decision by executive fiat, not whether humans can breathe or Miami is underwater.

    I think his promise to announce his decision at 3:30 P.M. today is a TV event designed in part to sate his narcissistic show of power and in part to deflect our attention from the tightening investigative noose of his Russian connections. I, for one, have better things to do than watch a showman’s flourish this afternoon, such as reading a book or taking a nap.

  14. Theresa and others here have made important points about how to respond to Trump’s apparent willingness to pull out of the Paris accords. It boils down to this: big business cannot be trusted to do what is in the best interests of the people – or the planet, for that matter. If the majority were, we wouldn’t need the Paris accords or regulations or trade unions, and so forth. We as a people, however, *can* pressure them, refuse to buy their goods, downsize, or do whatever else is in the realm of our abilities. Every little bit adds up.

    Side note: I don’t spend money for Koch products, but they are so overwhelmingly diversified that it’s nearly impossible. (Giving up lycra is going to kill me.)

  15. In the wake of the constant onslaught from Trump and his fellow travelers, it is becoming increasingly hard to say something about him and what he and they are doing to this Country that hasn’t already been said a thousand times already in the relatively short time (doesn’t really seem short; already seems like it has been forever) he has actually been in office. I think all that’s left are the words of an idiot savant philosopher, Forrest Gump: “Stupid is as stupid does.”

  16. We should not forget China is a one party dictatorship. A political decision by the Party to Go Green is carried out. China and Europe have good reasons to Go Green, both are short of oil resources. Russia is loaded with oil and gas.

    The US foreign policy has been to “safeguard” overseas sources of oil and prop up dictatorships. We have near 800 military bases all over the world and easily the largest navy. 800 military bases and the world’s largest navy is not enough for the Neo-Cons. The time has come for the Yankee to Go Home and use that money from the Pentagon on research for better more efficient wind and solar, plus more energy efficient autos and other machines, etc.

    The Chinese and Russians must be laughing among themselves as the Trumpet, blusters, bullies and tweets. I suspect the the Chinese and Russians see Trump for what he is a self centered egotist who has as a central purpose in his life of lining his own pockets with loot.

    I do not see the Russians as enemies. There is all this hyperventilating about Russian interference in our election. What has had a greater effect of the outcome of our elections Citizens United or the Russians????

  17. Louie – Citizens United by a mile, but why present an either-or choice? Let’s go after affronts to our democracy large or small.

  18. I guess Trump has opted to withdraw US from the Paris Climate Agreement. He gives new meaning to the term short-sighted. Where are the Republicans and Democrats, hiding under a rock?

  19. Louie: reminds me of the speech that Jack Ma, the Billionaire founder of the giant Chinese internet company Alibaba, gave last January at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. He basically said that the U.S. was falling behind economically because we had squandered our wealth — his figure was $14 Trillion over the last 30 years — fighting foreign wars — with little to show for it — instead of investing it in our own infrastructure and economic future.

    Ma seems to make a very good point.

  20. I think you’ve hit the “trump” nail on the head. Is it possible that this all comes from Obama making fun of him at the Washington Press Corp dinners? Trump’s proud to say he’s a counter-puncher. To all those people who say that Trump isn’t a true conservative or Republican, who say he has no particular governing philosophy beyond transactionalism, I disagree. It’s become abundantly clear in these less than 200 days, that Trump’s entire governing philosophy is “undo everything that Obama did, regardless of what it was, what it means or what the consequences will be.” He’s a bullying, petulant 70-year old child acting out with the ability to do immense amounts of harm.

  21. The big businesses which have ignored EPA standards and caused major polluting have also ignored any sanctions they received will continue to do so, all reputable businesses who have followed those guidelines, worked and paid to prevent pollution, who have disposed of waste and hazardous waste safely will continue to do so. Those residents who have followed the simple actions within their own homes to conserve energy and prevent pollution referred to by Theresa Bowers in her comments at 6:51 a.m. yesterday will continue to do so and encourage others to follow suit.

    Trump dropping out of the Paris Accords does not mean me are ordered to stop doing all we can to ease Global Warming; it is not an order to reputable businesses to begin polluting. Because Trump has made another major, stupid act against humanity and survival of the world does NOT mean we must lower ourselves to his level of stupidity.

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