During the meeting between President Trump and France President Emmanuel Macron over Bastille Day, the two discussed the Paris Climate agreement and what would it take to bring the United States back into the fold. The U.S. president said that he would be open to a deal, prompting the French president to say he was now optimistic.
“(Trump) told me that he would try to find a solution in the coming months,” Macron told a French newspaper, as reported by Reuters on Sunday. “We spoke in detail about the things that could make him come back to the Paris accord.” That report differs from what he had said during a press conference the Thursday before, when he said that nothing had changed.
Macron gave no specifics about what would change Trump’s mind. But Trump has indicated that one of his priorities is funding technologies to make fossil fuels cleaner.
President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord is not just at odds with Macron, it also runs counter what many American businesses believe. That is, they should do their part to mitigate the effects of climate regardless of federal policy. It is what their customers want and if they deny that demand, they will be denied future contracts.
While Trump left open the possibility of renegotiating the deal that would limit CO2 emissions, European leaders have rejected that idea, noting that 195 countries have already signed on to the pact, which took years to hammer out. Moreover, the accord is voluntary and the president could simply amend its goals if it found any of the provisions to be onerous.
The Paris accord, of course, will try to keep global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius by mid Century.
“Something could happen with respect to the Paris accord. We’ll see what happens,” Trump said, during the bilateral discussion last week. “But we’ll talk about that in the coming period of time. If it happens, that will be wonderful. If it doesn’t that’s ok, too.”
The irony here is that the premise from which the president starts is faulty — that the creation of jobs and the building of an economy are at odds with a healthy environment. Indeed, the U.S. economy has blossomed over several decades while it has also made huge environmental strides. Wind and solar jobs, for example, are providing hundreds of thousands of jobs. Moreover, many of the leading companies creating those technologies are American that are are trying to crack foreign markets.
In fact, it does not appear that the divide between Trump and Macron will be bridged. At issue now is the so-called Green Climate Fund established by the United Nations that exist to distribute monies to developing countries to help them fight climate change. The U.S. has given $1 billion of the $3 billion it has pledged, all while President Obama was in office.
Trump is reneging on the promise, although Bloomberg is reporting that he is now saying that he could revisit the issue if monies would be targeted to advanced coal projects — causes that he says would serve to electrify many parts of the world in the fastest and most cost effective manner.
The Green Climate Fund has about $7 billion its coffers, which has been provided by 43 national governments, lending institutions and private enterprises. Another $3 billion or so has been promised, although that takes into account President Obama’s earlier pledge. The money will service about 40 projects now on its plate. The eventual goal is to get to $100 billion.
“This is not supposed to be a coal slush fund or a natural gas slush fund,” said Karen Orenstein, the deputy director of the economic policy program at Friends of the Earth, in the Bloomberg piece. “This is a fund about sustainable development in the age of climate crisis.”
Luckily, the green fund is not just financed by 43 governments around the globe but also by financial institutions and private enterprise. One such private endeavor that is separate from this fund but which corresponds to its goal is the Breakthrough Energy Ventures. It has raised $1 billion and is financed in part by Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Michael Bloomberg — each of whom has implored the president to join the global climate effort because it is a job creator and wealth builder.