Drumpf risks new tariffs hurting US workers and businesses

President Drumpf’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement goes against the climate and economic interests of the United States, argues the author of this opinion piece, and could lead to tariff measures imposed by leading trading partners that are legal under international trade law.

President Drumpf’s 1 June action exiting the Paris Climate Agreement, announced with a speech heavy with imaginary facts, probably will achieve the opposite of what he promised. His reckless blunder may drive other countries to enact new tariffs on US exports, which will harm, not help, American workers and businesses needlessly. The rest of the world was holding back, given US leadership in achieving Paris, but facing Drumpf, the European Parliament has already debated this possible response.

Leading US trade partners – including Mexico, the European Union, Japan, South Korea, Chile, and Australia – already impose a price on their own carbon pollution, and Canada, China, and others have decided to do so. China will operate the largest carbon pricing system in the world at the end of this year. Other nations are raising their own companies’ costs and putting them at a disadvantage in international trade, because they know climate change and air pollution will be even worse for them.

Their carbon emissions per person (including in China) are already less than half of America’s, and dramatically less in India. We Americans are responsible for the largest share of historical world greenhouse gas accumulations. And we are still the second largest emitter of new carbon pollution every year. Far from “laughing at us,” as Drumpf suggested, our partner countries have been leading and tolerating us.

But now that Drumpf has reversed US policy and moved aggressively to take advantage of them commercially and pollute their world even more, these nations could level the playing field by slapping new tariffs on goods from countries like ours that do not price our own pollution.

Those tariffs can be legal under global trade law. Article XX of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade authorises exceptions for measures related to conservation of an exhaustible natural resource such as clean air, and measures necessary to protect human, animal, or plant life or health, as long as the new tariff does not impose arbitrary or unreasonable discrimination between countries, and is not a disguised restriction on international trade. The World Trade Organization Appellate Body has approved such exceptions, including for US environmental laws that impede trade. Acting in the name of the Paris Agreement, a universally-signed environmental agreement, will further bolster the case that these measures qualify for Article XX.

Last year the US exported $2.2 trillion worth of goods and services. So now in the line of fire are US workers and companies that manufacture cars, aircraft, industrial machines, semiconductors, telecommunications gear, medical equipment, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and plastics. Equally vulnerable are farmers and ranchers who sell soybeans, corn, meat, and poultry.

The US exports coal, crude oil, natural gas, and refined petroleum products. It has a trade surplus in refined products. Could this be why Exxon, US coal companies, and so many other companies urged Drumpf not to do this?

So Drumpf’s action was foolhardy even if one cared only about short-term US economic self-interest. This is before considering the greater harm he is causing Americans and the world by intensifying the coastal flooding, extreme weather, and illness we already suffer because of climate change, and by sacrificing international cooperation we need for a whole range of foreign policy goals.

To top it all, President Drumpf’s withdrawal was completely unnecessary. The UN agreement imposes no concrete policy steps on any country. What it requires is that each country make some pledge – of its own choice – to take action to address climate change beginning in 2020, and to implement its pledge. Drumpf could have changed President Obama’s pledge without withdrawing.

Drumpf’s claim that Paris exposed the US to legal liability is also threadbare. The Agreement does not authorise material sanctions against any country for failing to comply.

Perhaps Drumpf hoped that by triggering nationalistic pride, he might fool some Americans into accepting a reversal that will harm them. But most Americans disapprove of his move. Even among Drumpf voters, more than 6 in 10 favour taxing or regulating the pollution that causes global warming, or both, and only 1 in 5 support neither, according to a Yale survey.

Americans can have greater prosperity and protection from climate change at the same time. But to get them, we certainly need more competent, responsible leaders.

John S. Odell is Professor Emeritus of International Relations at the University of Southern California (USC) and Senior Fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation.

Kissing Paris goodbye, by Nancy Dorado-Curl

Regarding President Trump and the Paris climate accord: It reminds me of me as a child in the backyard. It would be raining outside, but I had made a playhouse from a shipping box, customized with windows, a door and curtains. I imagined it wasn’t raining, and I would sing and play in the soggy box until my mother screamed to get inside because “I would catch my death.”

Trump lives in a childish world of denial and ignorance. Scientific data backs up the relationship between CO2 emissions and climate change. Everybody else gets it. Why not Trump? Admission of error, to see the bigger picture — that makes a man.

For example, Mar-a-Lago is in Florida, the same state as Miami, which is planning to spend $500 million on pumps and elevated streets combating seawater flooding.

The only sane thing to do is to remain in the Paris accord, push for carbon tax and fee dividend and hope to God we can squeak in under the 400 ppm of C02 recommended by scientists, many of whom by now are probably unemployed.

Nancy Dorado-Curl, San Gabriel
San Gabriel Valley Tribune
http://www.sgvtribune.com/opinion/20170602/what-do-statistics-on-violence-hate-crimes-tell-us-letters

The Paris accords: Letter in the Pasadena Star News by Jan Freed

The Paris accords

I enthusiastically applaud Elon Musk and other top business leaders publicly supporting the Paris talks.

We can easily achieve reductions in emissions with a slowly rising price on pollution signed into law. Rebates from the fees would put real money — hundreds of dollars a month — into citizens’ pockets, create millions of jobs and save hundreds of thousands of lives within two decades, say a variety of studies (such as REMI). Economists of all stripes say this conservative solution is the most effective one. See citizensclimatelobby.org for more information.

President Trump is looking for love in all the wrong places. By making Paris even stronger, he would win the respect, admiration and gratitude of hundreds of millions of people, both here and worldwide. This certainty might transcend his loyalty to fossil-fuel interests, who just want to keep us burning the stuff.

— Jan Freed, Eagle Rock

Published at:  http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/opinion/20170522/a-complaint-about-u2s-performance-at-the-rose-bowl-letters

Trump doesn’t know the art of the legislative deal: Letters by Jan Freed and Craig R. Hover

Good act, poor president

Regarding your Question of the Week about how President Trump is doing at 100 days (April 25): Can someone name a piece of legislation Mr. Deal Maker has passed so far? FDR passed 15 bills in his first 100 days. Trump’s PR pen’s flourishes mean only “See, Dear Base, what a dashing, alpha guy I am?” and have little actual effect. Important government positions remain unfilled or filled by unqualified, corporate shills.

His immigration proposals must pass the three-way test: “Is it cruel, is it stupid, is it costly?”

He rattles his sword at North Korea and backs it into an unpredictable position. He unravels the EPA that has saved thousands of lives and $38 billion in net benefits. He brings us closer to the “game over” edge of the climate crisis, in the face of mountains of evidence. He will personally profit from his presidency and please the crocodilian Vladimir Putin. Will a flaccid Congress continue to grin and bear it?

He is a very poor president with a very good act.

​— Jan Freed, Eagle Rock

It’s a survival issue

It’s time to wake up. Global warming is not an economic issue. It is a survival issue.

Your article (May 1) goes on about coastline-related economic impacts 70 years from now. It, like virtually all other such pieces in the mainstream press, completely glosses over the real problem. If global warming is not stopped altogether soon, sea-level rise will be the least of our children’s problems.

In their own lifetime, summertime surface temperatures will be between 125 degrees and 144 degrees Fahrenheit in much of the U.S. and up to 157 degrees elsewhere. This environment will be fatal to 90 percent of the world’s population. To prevent this, we must engage in a World War II level of effort now before it stops us.

— Craig R. Hover, Monrovia

http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/opinion/20170501/trump-doesnt-know-the-art-of-the-legislative-deal-letters

 

Opinion. Some advice for disillusioned EPA scientists: ‘Don’t quit, fight’

Letter by Judith Trumbo, La Cañada , Flintridge. Published in the Los Angeles Times, April 11, 2017

To the editor: Thank you for the update on the unsung public servants of the EPA. As a former Los Angeles County urban planner, I know that the professional staff at the EPA is largely motivated by furthering the public interest.

The Trump administration can deny science, but it cannot change the basic chemistry and physics of climate change. We need the work of the EPA to continue, and we need a market solution as well: a fee on carbon emissions.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/readersreact/la-ol-le-epa-scientists-morale-20170411-story.html

EPA vs. the environment under a new secretary

By Jan Freed, Eagle Rock. Published in the Pasadena Star-News on 3/24/17

Scott Pruitt, the new head of the EPA, is not a homicidal maniac. But, like George W. Bush and the captain of the Titanic, his blithe dismissal of timely warnings will kill far more than would a busload of homicidal maniacs who kill directly.

The National Snow and Ice Data Center reports record low Arctic ice: “Vanishing Arctic sea ice is troubling sign that we’re running out of time to avert the disastrous consequences of climate change, and effective steps must now be taken to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

A step backward is to purge Energy Star ratings of appliances, one result of new EPA budget cuts. A step forward is to encourage clean energy jobs and low emissions using a rebated price on carbon, which protects consumers. The conservative Climate Leadership Council and a dozen Nobel laureates strongly support such policies.

Pruitt’s science ignorance is deadly.

http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/opinion/20170324/epa-budget-cuts-a-killer-for-environment-letters

 

EPA vs. the environment under a new secretary

by Jan Freed
Letter to the editor of the Pasadena Star-News, posted 3/24/17

Scott Pruitt, the new head of the EPA, is not a homicidal maniac. But, like George W. Bush and the captain of the Titanic, his blithe dismissal of timely warnings will kill far more than would a busload of homicidal maniacs who kill directly.

The National Snow and Ice Data Center reports record low Arctic ice: “Vanishing Arctic sea ice is troubling sign that we’re running out of time to avert the disastrous consequences of climate change, and effective steps must now be taken to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

A step backward is to purge Energy Star ratings of appliances, one result of new EPA budget cuts. A step forward is to encourage clean energy jobs and low emissions using a rebated price on carbon, which protects consumers. The conservative Climate Leadership Council and a dozen Nobel laureates strongly support such policies.

Pruitt’s science ignorance is deadly.

http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/opinion/20170324/epa-budget-cuts-a-killer-for-environment-letters