There are too many losers of President Donald Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of the landmark Paris climate agreement to name them all. But among them are innumerable species, coral reefs, Antarctica’s ice, coastal and indigenous communities, the poor, women and, really, humans in general ― and the planet at large.
Trump seems to think that America will somehow benefit from his decision, but many experts disagree. After rising as a global climate leader, the U.S. is now essentially ceding that role to power houses such as China and the European Union. And it doesn’t look like the United States is going to get anything good in return, according to analysts.
“With this step, the U.S. is on its own,” Niklas Höhne, founding partner of the NewClimate Institute, told HuffPost on Friday.
America is joining Nicaragua and Syria as the only countries not signed on to the Paris Accord. And the winners of the president’s decision are few and far between.
One could argue that the victors include Trump himself, who was able to fulfil his campaign promise to “cancel” the Paris deal, or the 22 Republican senators who supported his choice, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky). But with seven out of 10 Americans — and almost half of Trump voters — expressing support for remaining in the international accord, it’s perhaps too early to say whether Trump and Republican lawmakers will really emerge as winners here.
Fossil fuel companies seem to be an easy answer, as they stand to gain from a rollback of climate regulations. Yet, several major oil, gas and coal companies, including American oil giants ExxonMobil and ConocoPhilips, urged Trump to stay in the Paris deal.
“It gives the U.S. the ability to participate in future climate discussions to safeguard its economic and environmental best interests,” ConocoPhilips spokesman Daren Beaudo told Bloomberg this week.
Trump said the Paris Agreement would be bad for the American economy and lead to major job losses, so his supporters would argue that American businesses and workers would be the benefactors of his decision.
However, the United Nations predicted this month that the U.S. would lose jobs by quitting the accord. It’s set to lose out to emerging climate leaders like China, India and the E.U. in the rapidly growing clean energy industry, which is estimated to be worth $6 trillion by 2030. American-made goods also face being slapped with carbon tariffs.
Some of America’s largest companies, including manufacturing and retail bigwigs like Walmart, General Mills and General Electric have also argued that the U.S. should not ditch the Paris deal.
General Electric Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt issued a statement Thursday expressing his dismay at Trump’s climate announcement.
So it seems that the only clear winners are climate conspiracy groups such as the Heartland Institute and people like Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt and White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, both of whom have been credited with persuading Trump to ditch the Paris deal.
A climate conspiracist and nationalist with ties to white supremacy groups, Bannon has long been fighting a war of ideology ― and withdrawing from the Paris Accord is a victory for his anti-globalist and “America-first” ideals.
“It has to be sad for someone so invested in masculinity to know that when it comes to climate, Donald Trump is clearly the beta to Steve Bannon’s alpha,” Travis Nichols, a Greenpeace spokesman, told HuffPost.
George Frampton, co-founder of the Partnership for Responsible Growth, a conservative group advocating for a carbon tax, told HuffPost this week that the positions of the key climate deniers who influenced Trump reflected “a refusal to engage in the fact that we are in a global economy and a set of global relationships.”
“Working together with other countries on climate change is actually a tremendous economic and competitiveness opportunity,” Frampton said. “But in the same way that they don’t see working with allies on a lot of other things is in our best interest and represents leadership, they don’t see applying the same lesson to climate change.”
Joseph Majkut, director of climate policy at the libertarian think tank Niskanen Center, said pulling out of the Paris accord may satisfy the America-first, nationalistic narrative, but it’s a non-binding, cooperative agreement. “There’s no real policy win that comes of this,” he told HuffPost. “It’s purely a political symbol.”
So, according to Majkut, all Trump’s pledge to dump the Paris deal seems to have achieved is to appease a handful of “thought leaders on the right.”
Alexander C. Kaufman contributed reporting.