|Source - NASA / Wikipedia|
From a substantive point of view, I get what this Wall Street Journal Editorial is saying in endorsing Trump's action of ditching the Paris Accord. There is a merit in a viewpoint that getting prosperous now, having accumulated wealth now, is more important than worrying about a problem which will arise 50 years down the line. But there are a number of issues which remain unanswered in this line of thinking:
1. WSJ Editorial argues that Obama committed steep emission reduction targets for the USA but did not execute on the corresponding legislative action of aligning taxes to encourage such emission reduction. Ok, knowing Republicans controlled Congress for 6 years of Obama Era; we cannot recall WSJ Editorial chastising Republicans in Congress for not pushing any such tax alignment. Moreover, the right corollary of such an argument will be to urge Trump Administration to take an initiative to bring necessary tax and regulatory changes so that natural alignment happens between America's Energy Producers and the goal of voluntarily reducing greenhouse gases. WSJ Editorial does not do that but just could not resist itself in falsely criticizing Obama regime.
2. The accord sets voluntary targets. As the editorial says it correctly, the Paris according is nothing but an exercise in moral and social signaling. Given that, for America to reject when 190 countries have done so; it is simply an arrogant assertion of American Exceptionalism. It is bogus, egoistic and manically suitable for the Trump style. But in decades to come when the World is dominated by China and India, this arrogance of America is not going to help her anything. Wise Statesmen would have seen the merit of staying in the Accord but ensuring that American Industry does not pay any undue price. Meaning, this repudiation of a global according is going to be the poster child of Dumb Trump when it comes negotiating with rest of the world.
3. It is not as if rest of the world does not know how divided America is. But what this act will enforce is the futility of negotiating anything with an American Administration when the execution extends more than a sitting presidential term. In the case of Donald Trump, even Republicans cannot guarantee that he would last till next year! It is easy to imagine no nation with integrity or character would take an American Administration very seriously. In other words, Trump simply compounded his enemies and the way Bush's Iraq War continues to cost Americans; it is possible that Trump's mistake will continue to cost America for a long time to come - in terms any nation co-operating with America. Combined with Trump's refusal to confirm commitments to NATO, this American Administration has accumulated international damage of enormous proportion. Trump backing out of Paris Accord is going to open a void and equally an opportunity for China, India, and EU to fill that void. Political stars are aligned in these regions that indeed these nation states would step forward to lead the world. One should not be surprised few decades down the line when one would point to this Trumpian Exit as the genesis of the sunset of American Exceptionalism.
4. Trump said he was elected to protect interests of Pittsburg and not Paris. The question is by ditching Paris Accord, are Trump and Republicans going to bring jobs to Carbon Counties? When you are a political force which is ready to cut basic medical insurance of 20 million Americans; when you have an Administration which literally wants to cut the life line of millions of Americans in programs funded by Federal Government; there are no hopes that any such jobs will be created. Creating jobs is a hard work, and it needs a Government which is very agile, innovative and still willing to spend where it matters. No such dexterity is shown by Trump Administration nor by the current Republican Congress. One can imagine a Democrat campaigning in the Red Counties in a year or two, asking "has Trump brought you any jobs?".
The part which is more persuasive in the WSJ Editorial is when it says it is the American Private Industry which will innovate our way out. I would add to that the enlightened investor pressure as well. Ultimately Paris Accord represents a way of life humans want to follow on this planet, and that path is trying to pollute less of our natural habitat. It is cultural for sure. But there is nothing wrong in that. Humanity might have achieved more prosperity via Slavery, Apartheid, and Castism too. But that does not mean Humans allowed that.
The essence of a religious faith is - do things what we think moral even though we can get away otherwise. Trump act of ditching Paris Accord simply does not take this high road. Sure, there are jobless folks in Pittsburg who need to be employed. But it does not mean the only path in finding jobs for those folks should be polluting more of this planet. There are many other ways to bring employment to Carbon Counties of America. But the exit of Paris Accord by Trump formalizes otherwise an expected behavior from this Republican Regime which refuses to work through alternatives while co-operating with rest of the world.