Here are two excellent “explainer” videos about what the Paris Climate Accord is, and the significance of the U.S. dropping out of the agreement.
The first is by Hank Green, one of the vlogbrothers. If you are not familiar with their YouTube channel, I highly recommend giving them a listen. The brothers are very intelligent, compassionate, and fun.
The second, from the YouTube channel 2veritasium, reviews the top five reasons given for why it’s good that the U.S. dropped out the Paris Climate Accord, and explains why the reasons are unsound.
Given the ideas shared in these videos, I think Trump achieves nothing positive by leaving the Accord. The Accord does not compel the U.S. to do anything or pay anyone since the agreement is merely a set of goals, not obligations.
By leaving the Accord he’s essentially saying the U.S. does not want to be a leader in reducing pollution, either economically or otherwise. This seems irrational, given Trump’s business experience and focus, because alternative energy is a high growth sector of the economy.
Again, what did he achieve? He reduces his stature and credibility on the world stage and nationally. And by focusing on coal and oil, he shifts national focus away from a booming alternative energy sector, opening the door for competitors like China to become leaders in that booming sector. In terms of what’s good for the U.S., his decision just makes no sense.
So what drove Trump to drop out of the Accords? Appeasing his base is one explanation. It’s something he can point to and say “I did that.”
Another much more conspiratorial explanation is that Trump dropped out of the Accords to benefit Russia. Russia’s economic success depends on their vast supply of natural resources, particularly oil. By shifting our national focus away from alternative energy, we reinforce or prolong our use of oil, which benefits Russia’s economy as a global oil supplier. When you add how Trump’s tough stance with European leaders has negatively impacted the stability of NATO, a primary nemesis of Russia, the conspiracy seems more plausible….But even considering that possibility makes me sick to my stomach.