Friday, June 2, 2017

Trump Announcement Withdrawing From Paris Accord Anti-Climatic

President Donald J. Trump Thursday announced the United States will withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord, and begin negotiations to either re-enter or negotiate an entirely new agreement with more favorable terms for the United States.
[Note: After the announcement a joint statement by Germany, France and Italy said the Climate Accord cannot be renegotiated.  Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May said she made her points to President Trump directly about the Accord.
[The U.S. will now join Syria and Nicaragua as the only governments to be outside the agreement.]
The decision is a fulfillment of the promise President Trump made repeatedly to the American people during his campaign. During the address, the President vowed that the U.S. would maintain its position as a world leader in clean energy, while protecting the economy and strengthening the workforce.
[Note: U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry said in a statement, “Instead of preaching about clean energy, this Administration will act on it. Our work and deeds are more important than empty words.  The United States will continue to be actively engaged in the development of global energy and the world leader in the development of next generation technology.”
[The Trump Administration is proposing a 70  percent cut in renewable energy funding for wind and solar in the FY 2018 federal budget.]
According to the Trump Administration, the Paris Climate Accord cost the U.S. economy nearly $3 trillion over the next several decades in reduced output, over 6 million industrial jobs, and over 3 million manufacturing jobs.
[Note: The study cited during in the President’s remarks was not a true cost/benefit study because it did not include any analysis of the potential economic benefits of the Paris Climate Accord.
[A Citibank study in 2015 found the cost of not addressing climate change was $44 trillion by 2060, while investing in low-carbon energy would save $1.8 trillion through 2040 as compared to business-as-usual.]
[Note: The natural gas industry directly and indirectly employs about 72,154 in Pennsylvania--  19,623 directly and another 52,531 in related industries. There are 66,000 people in Pennsylvania working at 5,900 clean energy and energy efficiency companies.  There were 6,633 coal mine employees in Pennsylvania in 2015, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.]
The Administration noted President Obama committed $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund - which is about 30 percent of the initial funding without authorization from Congress.
[Note: The actual transfer was $1 billion before the end of the Obama Administration and the U.S. State Department said it was based on existing authorizations from the Economic Support Fund in FY 2016 that was not earmarked by Congress for specific programs and activities.]
The Accord, the Trump Administration said, imposes unrealistic targets on the U.S. for reducing our carbon emissions, while giving countries like China a free pass for years to come. Under the Accord, China will actually increase emissions until 2030.
[Note: China’s carbon dioxide emissions may have already peaked a full decade ahead of the Climate Accord commitment thanks to falling coal consumption.
["Utilisation (their spelling) rates of coal-fired power plants in China are falling rapidly, as new plants enter an electricity system in which renewables have expanded fast and demand has slowed markedly," the International Energy Agency wrote in its 2016 World Energy Outlook.
[Note: The reduction goals are not unrealistic, at least for Pennsylvania.  Carbon dioxide emissions in Pennsylvania have already dropped by 27 million tons between 2007 and 2014 as a result of the retirement of coal-fired power plants and new natural gas-fueled plants taking their place and additional EPA controls on mercury emissions at coal-fired power plants.  
[In fact, Pennsylvania needed only 15 million tons of additional reductions by 2030 (13 years from now) to meet EPA Clean Power Plan reduction requirements and that could be achieve without doing much except continuing the strong, market-driven trend of using more natural gas for power production.]
According to researchers at MIT, the Trump Administration said, if all member nations met their obligations, the impact on the climate would be negligible. The impacts have been estimated to likely reduce global temperature rise by 0.2 degrees Celsius in 2100.
[Note: At the time the Paris Accord was signed there was recognition the pledges made by each nation to take the steps necessary to limit global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius (or even 1.5 degrees) were “aspirational.”  That said, U.S. carbon emissions will still likely decline as market forces continue to push utilities to switch from coal to natural gas and renewable power.]
Reactions - Gov. Wolf
Prior to President Trump’s announcement, Gov. Tom Wolf (D) said, “I urge President Trump not to abdicate the United States’ global leadership and seat at the table on climate change – a pressing issue for Pennsylvania’s economy, especially energy, agriculture and tourism, and our resident’s health.”
“Pennsylvania is an energy leader and addressing emissions presents opportunities for Pennsylvania’s natural gas, renewable energy and energy efficiency industries to grow and create new jobs.
“Many of America’s largest corporations – from energy to technology – agree with environmental advocates, faith leaders and scientists that staying in the Paris agreement is the right choice for America. We cannot ignore the scientific evidence and economic significance of climate change and put our economy and population at risk,” Wolf added.
He noted in 2015, the Pennsylvania Climate Impacts Assessment Update, prepared by Penn State University and lead by professor Dr. James Shortle, warned of serious consequences of climate change for Pennsylvania residents, industries and communities.
Some key takeaways from the report include:
-- Climate change could worsen air quality: increasing pollen concentration, mold concentration, and ground-level ozone, causing longer allergy seasons, aggravating asthma, and increasing mortality among at-risk populations.
-- Vector-borne diseases like West Nile virus and Lyme disease could increase due to more favorable conditions for mosquitoes and deer ticks.
-- Increased precipitation in many parts of the state could lead to higher flood risks and threaten safe drinking water supplies.
-- Warmer temperatures will bring more favorable conditions for agricultural pests like weeds and insects.
-- Severe storms – strengthened by warmer temperatures – could affect reliable electric service and threaten current electric infrastructure.
“Climate change is a global issue that needs cooperation at all levels, from international agreements down to local efforts to conserve energy and reduce greenhouse gases,” said Neil Shader, a spokesman for the Department of Environmental Protection, which implements climate policy. “While withdrawal from the Paris agreement will not directly impact specific DEP policies, climate change is still an issue that is already affecting Pennsylvania.”
For more information on climate change in Pennsylvania, visit DEP’s Climate Change webpage.
Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn released the following statement Friday in reaction to the Trump Administration’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord--
“The President’s decision to turn our back on an international solutions-oriented agreement to address a changing climate is deeply disappointing. Without federal leadership on climate change, additional responsibility will fall on states and communities.
“While climate change presents significant challenges, there is much we can and are doing here in Pennsylvania – from managing our forests to sequester an increasing amount of carbon and ensuring that our public lands remain resilient, to helping private landowners and communities reduce their carbon footprints and adapt to climate change.
“DCNR currently is working with the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science to develop a climate change mitigation and adaptation plan for the department.
“As the state’s leading conservation agency, DCNR is using the best available science to develop and implement climate change strategies to minimize and adapt to these impacts, and serve as a role model for the citizens of Pennsylvania.
“Pennsylvania is experiencing higher temperatures; increased precipitation; higher numbers of storm events; decreased snow cover; and changing distribution of some plants and animals related to climate change.”
More background is available on DCNR’s Climate Change webpage.  A copy of DCNR and Climate Change - Planning for the Future is also available online.
PA House Republicans
Steve Miskin, a spokesman for the House Republicans, said he expects the state will continue to pursue climate policy, as required by a 2008 state law under which the DEP must make two reports on climate change every three years.
“Pennsylvania’s 2008 Climate Change Act requires the Commonwealth to have its own plan independent of federal policies and international agreements,” Miskin said. “We have made significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in Pennsylvania and it’s expected we will continue to do so.”
“President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement goes against the interests of Philadelphians,” said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney (D) said. “My administration is now committed to upholding at the local level the very same commitment made by the United States in the Paris climate agreement — to reduce carbon emissions between 26 and 28 percent by 2025.  This will ensure that we’re well on our way to meeting Philadelphia’s current long-term goal of reducing the city’s emissions 80 percent by 2050.”
Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto (D) said he took personal offense to President Trump’s reference to Pittsburgh in his speech saying he was “elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.”
"He completely ignores the sacrifices that we made over 30 years in order to get back up on our feet, in order to be creating a new economy, in order to make the sacrifices to clean our air and clean our water," Mayor Peduto said.
He said Mr. Trump "used us as this example of a stereotype in order to make a point -- and it missed completely."
Further, Mr. Peduto said, Pittsburgh will continue to follow the principles of the nonbinding Paris accord, which aims to slow global warming.
Mayor Peduto Friday issued an Executive Order to further promote climate control initiatives, in the wake of President Trump's decision Thursday to pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Accords of 2015.
The Order describes the long history of the City's commitment to climate change initiatives, and lays out more work Pittsburgh will be doing through 2030.
"For decades Pittsburgh has been rebuilding its economy based on hopes for our people and our future, not on outdated fantasies about our past. The City and its many partners will continue to do the same, despite the President's imprudent announcements yesterday," Mayor Peduto said.  
Among many initiatives, the Order commits the City to:
-- Working with the National Climate Action Agenda and 81 other cities to undertake additional actions to meet the 1.5 degrees Celsius target.  
-- Continue working on 2030 climate objectives, including achieving 100 Percent Renewable Electricity Consumption for Municipal Operations; a citywide Zero Waste Initiative to divert 100 percent of materials from landfills; fifty percent energy consumption reduction citywide; Development of a fossil fuel free fleet.
-- The continued commitment to quantifying the impact of the City’s work in reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions and building a more sustainable City, through the completion of the Pittsburgh Climate Action Plan 3.0
-- Advancing Carbon Neutrality objectives within the City; adopting energy efficiency standards for buildings; electrifying transportation system with renewable energy sources; supporting weatherization and maintenance of Pittsburgh housing stock to help elderly and vulnerable populations;  and protecting and regenerating of our natural environment through land conservation, park preservation and urban agriculture.
The Order follows the Mayor's denunciation of President Trump's decision to pull the United States out of the 195-nation climate agreement reached in Paris in 2015, which Mayor Peduto attended and supported.
Click Here for a copy of the Executive Order.
Sen. Bob Casey (D)
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D) called climate change a “double-barreled blow to PA jobs & our environment” and also mentioning a town hall he held in Pittsburgh earlier this year where the “residents in attendance called for action on climate change.”
Cong. Keith Rothfus (R)
Congressman Keith Rothfus (R-Western PA) said, “The Paris Climate Agreement was never a legitimate deal. It was never submitted to the Senate for ratification because the Senate would never have ratified it. The Paris Agreement is not about climate. It is about control. It certainly is not about growth; it is about redistribution. We have a moral responsibility to create a much healthier economy that will increase jobs and increase wages. Only by building a stronger economy will we be able to generate the revenues we need to meet the commitments we have made to our seniors and veterans.
“Ending antigrowth obstacles like the Paris Agreement opens the way to a brighter future, with America in the lead. In applauding President Trump's move today, I stand with Western Pennsylvania manufacturers, boilermakers, power plant workers, railroad workers, truckers and miners in opposition to the Washington and global elites who want to concentrate power in their own hands," Rothfus added.
Cong. Pat Meehan (R)
Congressman Pat Meehan (R-Delaware County) described the decision as one that "diminishes America's leadership role on the world stage."
"The Paris Agreement isn't perfect. But by abandoning it, America is relinquishing that seat at the table," Meehan said in a statement. "It calls into question our commitment to protecting and preserving the environment. And it forfeits our ability to drive countries like China and India to reduce their carbon footprint and compete on a level playing field."
(Photo: Official White House Photo.)
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