Thursday, June 08, 2017

The irrelevance of US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement

So much has been happening that it constantly out-runs my capacity to comment!

President Trump's decision that the US should withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change mitigation did not come as a surprise given his previous stated positions. What was a little uprising was the apparent temporising at the end. What was also a surprise, at least to me, was the President's statement that he was in some way open to the renegotiation of the Agreement. This struck me a little like having a bob each way, although it may just have been a gesture to atmospherics.

On 30 January 2017 in Monday Forum - the administrative competence of the Trump Administration, I concluded that the thing that most surprised me about President Trump's initial immigration Executive Order was the apparent administrative incompetence involved, something that I thought may be becoming a feature of the new US Administration at this point in its life. I think that's a fair assessment, although there were two qualifying themes in comment. One that we should wait and see for at least 100 days, a second that the end result of the Trump administration as a whole would be somewhere between worst and best expectations. Don't you hate it when people are reasonable?

In the lead-up to the President's announcement, the leader of the National Party and deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce captured things rather well: "Well, um, to speculate on a whole range of things is dangerous, to speculate on what Donald Trump might do is insanity.”  One can only agree.

I think the main conclusion that I drew at the time, one that has been reinforced by events since, is that this is a Presidential decision that really doesn't matter: no other country followed the US lead; counter action by the bigger US states and cities will probably keep US outcomes on track re existing commitments; and in any case, US withdrawal cannot be completed until quite close to the next US presidential election.Who knows what will have happened.by then?

In Australia, the response revealed the growing impotence of the conservative right. including former Prime Minister Abbott. While Liberal MP Craig Kelly wanted to get out the champagne, it was remarkable just how little support President Trump's decision attracted. I think that people have just moved on.


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