With Our Heads In The Sand …

The 23rd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 23) to the UN Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is taking place this week and next (November 6-17) in Bonn, Germany. Despite Donald Trump’s desire to withdraw the United States from the Paris Accord, he is not able to do so officially until 2020, and thus the U.S. is represented in Bonn this week, albeit by a weak party with no voice, for fear of rousing Trump’s ire.

As I reported in my post of June 1st, all but two nations on the entire globe, Nicaragua and Syria, had signed the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015.  Since then, both Nicaragua and Syria have signed the agreement, but Donald Trump has announced his decision to pull out at the earliest possible date, making the United States the only nation on the entire globe that will not participate, at least not at the federal level or officially, in trying to save the planet from the greed and ignorance of mankind. We stand alone, and on the wrong side of the fence.

The delegation to Bonn from the U.S. is led by two men:  Thomas A. Shannon, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, and Trigg Talley, Deputy Special Envoy for Climate Change.  Both men have shown themselves in the past to be committed to addressing issues of climate change, and Mr. Talley served as the head of U.S. delegation during three years of preparatory conferences for the Paris Agreement.  However, this week their hands are tied, and they are ashamed and embarrassed at the stand their nation has taken.  According to one delegate, “It’s as though the US negotiators have been dipped in aspic. They are scared stiff of upsetting the White House. They try to be constructive, but they don’t want that known.”

Thomas Shannon (left) and Trigg Talley

The White House has confirmed that the US will promote the “efficient” use of coal, nuclear energy and natural gas as an answer to climate change in a presentation to delegates in Bonn. Trump has vowed to revive America’s ailing coal sector but this message is likely to provoke outrage on the global stage. “We are seeing 196 parties trying to move forward and put the Paris accord into effect. They don’t want to let the US impede that progress,” said David Waskow of the World Resources Institute.

Another delegate said: “We have lost the leadership the US used to provide. They have the best negotiating team and they are usually put forward strong arguments, but in talks this year, they have been quiet. You can feel they are a little lost. It must be so hard for them now. I sympathise.”

But there is a bit of a bright spot …

But the U.S., or at least parts of it, was also represented in another way. According to an article in The Guardian

Donald Trump’s decision to pull the US out of the Paris climate agreement has created a vacuum into which dozens of state, city and business leaders have leapt, with the aim of convincing other countries at the international summit that the administration is out of kilter with the American people.

The counter-Trump movement in Bonn is being spearheaded by Jerry Brown, the governor of California, and Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York. Brown, in particular, has assumed the role of a de facto US leader, scheduling more than two dozen events to agitate for renewable energy and emissions cuts to combat what he has called an “existential crisis”.

A US Climate Action Center has been set up for delegates in Bonn, representing the climate change priorities of several thousand US cities, states, tribes and businesses. Corporate giants Mars, Walmart and Citi are expected to push for action on climate change. The center is in lieu of an official US presence – for the first time, the US government won’t have a pavilion at the annual UN climate summit.

At the razzamatazz opening of the alternative US centre on Thursday, California state senator Ricardo Lara told the audience: “Greetings from the official resistance to the Trump administration.” Pausing for cheers and applause, he said: “Let’s relish being rebels. Despite what happens in DC, we’re still here.”

A coalition of 14 US states, including California and New York, have said they are on track to meet the US target of a 26-28% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2025, compared to 2005 levels. The goal was set by Barack Obama’s administration as part of the Paris agreement between 195 nations to avoid dangerous global warming of more than 2C.

Brown has raised his profile in recent months by meeting with China’s leadership to discuss clean energy technology and becoming a special adviser for states and regions during the Bonn talks.

The efforts of Brown, Bloomberg and others is definitely heartening, is a step in the right direction, and sends a loud and clear message to Trump that he does not, in fact, represent our nation in his decision to withdraw from the Paris Accord. But ….

Governors such as Brown and Cuomo cannot officially take the place of the US president in UN climate talks. Their emissions pledges do not supersede the official US position and, in any case, the 14 committed states only have influence over around half of total US emissions. Without national leadership, the US is in danger of missing its emissions reduction goals and will jeopardize international efforts to stave off 2C of warming, which would lead to elevated sea level rise, intensified droughts, heatwaves and wildfires.

By what right, I ask, does one ‘man’, Donald Trump, determine the destruction of the planet?  And to what end does he make this decision?  For the jobs of a few thousand coal miners whose jobs will be gone, despite Trump’s best efforts, within five years at the latest, for there is little market for coal anymore?  For a handful of jobs, he is willing to risk the lives of the 7.442 billion people who call this planet ‘home’?

We, the United States, are rapidly becoming a pariah in the world, thanks to only one person.  The world has already waited too long to address the issue of climate change, and it is imperative that every person on the earth step up to the plate and do his/her part immediately.  And yet, here in the U.S., life goes on – we mine coal, start up new oil pipeline projects without proper environmental studies, drive our cars wherever we wish, keep our homes toasty, pollute our cities with antiquated factories, emitting more Co2 every day.  And we are the only country left on the planet whose leadership is thumbing their noses at the rest of the world and sending the message “we don’t care”.  Shame on Donald Trump, and shame on the U.S.

36 thoughts on “With Our Heads In The Sand …

  1. Sorry about this, just kept on growing…..
    This is a complex one isn’t it Jill? Whereas there is the underlying idea that each person in a democracy bears a responsibility, there is also the circumstance in which the various systems of democracy give rise to unrepresentative results. After all it is a fact that more people voted for Clinton than for the creature who currently makes a mockery of the office of president.
    The recent histories of the democracies show the rise of a class of politicians who practically went from university into politics and were basically never really in touch with people. Sure they could occasionally press the right buttons, but overall when they failed to deliver as every person voted in is destined to do at some time then a dissatisfied section will look for the simple solution (which does not actually exists but that’s for another discussion).
    To look at the US over the recent decades you witness the separating of the Right and the Liberal (I can’t say Left because by European measurements in the USA that is a very small group). You also have a large ‘fashionably cynical’ group who make much of saying voting doesn’t matter (I hope they are happy now…Ha!) and you have the corrosive Conspiracy Theorists who lurk on all wings of politics (and those who make money out of the poor saps with their blogs and books). When you look at those last two irresponsible groups you have an unholy alliance which fails the Liberal wing. The majority of the Right are not affected because they have more understandable angry irrational motivation (just look at the recent years’ antics on Capitol Hill) and the foolish notion by some of the wealthy establishment that this force can be controlled.
    Thus in this mixture of outrage, nihilism, and anger the Liberal voice can get swamped.
    Just keep on fighting back, don’t give in. Reach out to those who you disagree with and celebrate that which you share. There are those (in all sections) who are reprehensible in their hatred and will not be moved have nothing to do with them, unless they wake up their reward will be the dust and ashes of sour fear.
    Always remember Jill, this happens in Democracies.
    Hope. Survival. Compassion. Respect. Tolerance.

    Liked by 1 person

    • As always, dear Roger, you have wise and encouraging words. Words I need to heed, to remember, for it is so easy to get discouraged and throw one’s hands in the air in disgust and surrender. I begin to feel some days as a dog chasing its tail. Or a perpetual roller coaster than has no end, but just up, down, up, down, one day seeing promise of positive changes, the next more people burying their heads and refusing to see. I do think our best … perhaps our only … hope of making forward strides is to reach out to those whose views differ and find the common ground, and I try to do that … have been successful in a few instances, but most are too busy screeching to hear any view other than their own. Thanks, Roger … as always, you ground me and bring me back to earth. 🌏

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for your kind words Jill.
        Being on the Hard Realistic Left (I just coined that…applying for copyright) does mean having to accept that folk are different. To bring them on board it’s important to find the common ground.
        Now that does not mean sneaky manipulation, it’s a case of once we find what we share we trying and work towards a common goal. The fundamental stuff, such as Responsibility. Tolerance. Respect. Compassion. There has to be give and take. But if they insist on screeching there are two options: (A) Warning them history is not on their side and a sewer’s worth is coming their way (B) If by glorious chance this takes place on media, go full defcon and humiliate them. Then return to dealing with the more sensible majority.
        Tough war Jill.

        Liked by 1 person

        • It certainly is a tough war … I knew it would be, but it is exceeding my direst predictions. And I think I failed miserably in finding common ground just a few minutes ago in my answer to a comment from a reader that I found particularly … demoralizing. Some days, my friend, I should have just stayed in bed. But … I keep trying … I just wish there were more of the sensible ones out there, y’know?

          I would like to apply for membership in your Hard Realistic Left … could you send me an application? 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          • Application is easy Jill. Just tune into this niche of WordPress.
            Oh, and don’t forget to write short stories, or even start a book; there are great places to take time out. I know you can do it. Don’t worry about the direction. Just put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and write down whatever comes into your head; the characters will help you along.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Well then, I’m already a member! And honoured to be in the club!

              I’m going to do just that, my friend! It may not turn out to be worth reading, but I will have the satisfaction of having done it! Feeling much better tonight, by the way … Thanks!!! You helped.

              Liked by 1 person

  2. Not shame on the USA Jill, a majority of the voting population did not vote the oaf into office.
    And how he is going to handle the professionals at city and state level who do not agree with him? Well it’s beyond him.
    At this stage I would suggest you all start showing your complete contempt by not showing his phot on your blogs, just a blank square.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for your words, Roger. I did not vote for him, yet I hang my head in shame, even as I say ‘he is not my president’. And note that I don’t think I have used his picture on any of my posts for several months. Maybe I have, though, come to think of it, but you are right, and I won’t do it again. I really like using the ones where he looks like a tub of lard with pockmarks, though. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • I didn’t make myself too clear Jill (like night-time in the UK). I meant to say ‘You’ as in the USA against Trump, so everyone treats him as a the little speck he truly is.
        As to feeling ashamed, remember he is there through a pure quirk of the electoral system. The USA as a people – not your fault.
        The political and media systems- they are to blame for inflating this creature far beyond his value (if any)

        Liked by 1 person

        • No worries there, Roger … I knew what you meant and didn’t take it personally at all. But I do think that each of us bear some responsibility here. It’s rather like an electronic devise that, if it is not actively charging, is discharging. If we are not actively speaking out against him by whatever means are available to us, then we are passively supporting him. At least, that’s my theory. Those who sit back and say, “I’m just not going to get involved, for I do not wish to lose friends’, are as much a part of the problem as those who are actively pro-Trump. Your thoughts?

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Jill, great post. A key point that should not be overshadowed by the overall mission is the US is ceding a leadership position in scientific research and advocacy. Just think of that – we are extremely good at something and the President stops doing that.

    Four other quick comments: the job growth is on the renewable energy side of the ledger, the US GAO is estimating the cost of climate change on recent storm, flooding and drought activity at $350 billion, within the same week a required report came out saying there is no other plausible explanation for climate change than man’s influence the White House Council on the Environment nominee said while she is not a scientist, man’s influence on climate change is unconvincing, and the Kansas State University of Agro-economics notes of course climate change is man-influenced, but we cannot talk about it in those terms with our politicians.

    As we have discussed, Trump has taken the US away from the adult table on this real global threat. Thank goodness other US leaders are there to carry the banner.

    Keith

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Keith! Yes, one of the articles I read for this post referred repeatedly to the huge gap left by the loss of U.S. leadership. It seems Trump has set this nation on a suicide path some days, destroying everything that was good. It pleases me greatly to see those like Brown, Cuomo, Bloomberg and others taking the ball and running with it. One might think it sends a message to Trump, but perhaps he truly is incapable of hearing anything that does not fit into his preconceived notions.
      The other aspect is, since our actions, or rather inactions, will affect every other nation on the globe, how long before we find ourselves a pariah, an outcast, a nation with no allies? Perhaps I am being over-dramatic, but it just makes sense to me. If I keep heaping horse dung in my yard, the pile grows higher and higher, stinkier and stinkier, eventually my neighbor turns from friend to foe, right? And eventually, some summer night when he has his windows open, my neighbor probably declares war on me. Something to think about.

      Like

    • I know … that is what’s frustrating … why not stay and use their voice, take a stand, make a difference? It is said that the reason is they would not be able to win their re-election bids next year with Trump and/or Bannon working against them, and I imagine there is some truth to that, but I don’t see it as a foregone conclusion. There are still a majority in this country who have brains. Sigh. SIGH.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    ” We stand alone, and on the wrong side of the fence.” Once it was Nicaragua and Syria ALONE …. ‘Now both Nicaragua and Syria have signed the agreement, but Donald Trump has announced his decision to pull out at the earliest possible date, making the United States the only nation on the entire globe that will not participate, at least not at the federal level or officially, in trying to save the planet from the greed and ignorance of mankind.’
    Great going, America … Feel lonely yet??

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dear Jill,
    I blame the republicans in the US Congress for propelling a man into the White House who bragged about his being able to grab women’s private parts and who knowingly barged into pageant dressing rooms so he could ogle young ladies in states of undress. These same republicans are backed by the fossil fuel industry lobbyists and so, they put one of their own in the White House.
    Jill, these pervert supporters need to go.
    In the Virginia race, the women’s advantage was 22 points.
    We need to get those republicans who have sold their decency and souls for thirty pieces of silver, out of Washington DC.
    Thank God for decent men like California’s Governor Jerry Brown and the former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

    Hugs, Gronda

    Liked by 2 people

    • I couldn’t agree more! We need to get them out and restructure campaign finance rules so that no candidate can be in the pockets of corporations and lobbyists. First, though, I would really like to get rid of the ringleader of this circus! 😉 Hugs!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. All I can say is…HUGS! The Idiot Right, here in Australia, have a love affair with coal too.
    The one bright light seems to be this Brown guy. Do you think he’d have the backing of enough people to challenge Trump for the next Presidency?

    Liked by 1 person

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