The US Withdraws From the Paris Climate Agreement


Things kind of broke open this week.  I had an extended three days of dry weather and actually got some real soybean planting done.  It always seems sort of a marathon, I’m still at it and hopefully June won’t grow too old before I am finished.  Ontario in general is behind in planting and hopefully mother nature will be kind going forward.

Of course we never know that.  There was one time in my career when I completely negated long-term weather forecasts.  I no longer do that having got to know our DTN weather guru Bryce Anderson through the years.  I take what he says and add it to the other reports I read.  How our climate works and interacts has certainly become interesting.

It got even more so this past Thursday when President Donald Trump announced that the United States was withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement.  Mr. Trump had promise that during the election campaign, but of course many people were hoping that he would stay within the agreement once elected.  However, Mr. Trump is doing what he’s said he would do.

I was not too surprised by the withdrawal of the Americans from the Paris climate agreement.  Mr. Trump said during the announcement that he represents the people from Pittsburgh not Paris.  Whether you understand that logic or not, I do respect it from him.  Simply put, the President of the United States has to be respected.  That’s one reason I thought that he would take the United States out of the Paris agreement.  People simply have to get beyond thinking that Trump is an American demagogue.  He represents a constituency in the United States that has found resonance with his populism.

It is difficult to know how this may affect agriculture.  You can make the argument that ethanol and biofuels a big facet of an American attempt to reduce greenhouse gases.  This might also be related to the climate change strategy that many have room purporting over the last several years.  With Mr. Trump taking the Americans out of the Paris climate agreement, you would think that it would be even easier to be less friendly to renewable fuel mandates in the future.  We shall see.  I’m just saying.

Our Canadian environment minister chimed in by saying she was “deeply disappointed.  She has always been on the record talking about a clean growth economy, which will create opportunities for business.  Of course, she says that Canada will soldier on fighting climate change.  The Prime Minister apparently phoned Mr. Trump and expressed his disappointment as well.  The French President even made a YouTube video in English expressing his disappointment and asking American climate scientists to move to France, where the implication was they would be more respected.  The United States now joins Nicaragua and Syria as the only two countries that are part of the United Nations framework convention on climate change, but are not part of the Paris climate agreement.

It is difficult to know where this goes from here.  The problem of climate changes that the effects of changing our behavior now will only be able to be measured 30 years from now.  This makes it very difficult to measure.  It also makes it somewhat easier for Mr. Trump to appeal to his constituency and withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement.

The climate change narrative has also been cheapened to some extent by politicians, who attribute fighting change with carbon taxes.  Taxing the polluters was always supposed to create an incentive to clean up.  However, when mixed with some political chicanery, it often turns into just another tax.  Politicians become addicted to that and the beat goes on.  In 2017, there is some of that in Canada.

I’m disappointed because I do believe in climate change.  I have read with interest all the reports from the Canadian Arctic, which seems to be getting warmer.  Many of you know that I travel to Bangladesh often and have seen the effects of the ocean levels rising causing salinity to degrade the environment upstream.  However, don’t ask me how to fix it.  Something tells me though, not having the United States, as part of the Paris climate agreement might be a step backwards.

The situation should surely evolve over the next few months.  How will our American friends mollify the world community who signed the Paris agreements?  Or does that thought even cross the minds of the current American administration?  So as the world gets warmer, we can only hope something can be salvaged with the United States.  Our American friends have lots to contribute.  I’d hate to see them sit this one out.

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