An online news outlet that tracks UN climate conferences has a dynamite story titled “‘Don’t wake the bear’: fragile climate talks begin in Bonn.” The bear in this case is President Trump. The article is about something called the “Trump effect” which is scaring the heck out of the Bonn negotiators.
The Trump effect has several aspects, one of which is that no one wants to officially admit that it exists. The outlet — “Climate Home News” — is a trusted ally of the negotiators, so it was able to get some to admit off the record that the Trump pullout from the Paris Agreement is potentially a serious problem.
To begin with, and we have already talked about this, the US is still at the negotiating table because quitting the Paris Agreement takes several years. In fact the Trump delegation is reported to be about 50 people strong, which is not small. These negotiations proceed via many simultaneous work group meetings so you need a lot of people just to keep your hand in. Small delegations cannot do this so they band together into various negotiating teams.
The principal fear is that the Trumpers will be disruptive. This does not mean beating on the table with their shoes, although that would be great fun indeed. In diplomatic language, disruptive may simple mean disagreeing and being stubborn about it. Sounds like Trump to me.
Climate Home puts it this way: “This is a consensus body and to function it needs the US. Trump could utterly derail the talks if he chose.”
Another potential disruption is that in order to get the Paris Agreement the Obama people made a number of informal promises to the developing countries. The Trump people may now disavow these deals, which could cause the more radical developing countries to revolt. Their feeling is that they gave up a lot and they may want it back.
At the top of the list of promises is that the US and the other developed countries would cough up $100 billion a year beginning in 2020. Trump will never go for that one. Probably topping the list of developing country concessions is the right to sue the developing countries for what is called “loss and damage” due to human caused climate change. As you can see, this is all about money, not science.
There is also the fear that the Trump people will try to talk other countries into pulling out of the Paris Agreement. After all, Trump’s stated reasons for leaving are all economic and every country has an economy. A number of countries, from Poland to India, are not real happy with the Paris stuff. According to a recent report from the UN Environment Program, a number of large emerging economies are investing heavily in new coal fired power plants. This is clearly contrary to the Paris Plan.
What this says to me is that President Trump himself should go to the Bonn COP 23 climate conference. President Obama went to several of these COPs, as the only way to get what he wanted out of them. France’s President is already scheduled to be there, as is Germany’s Merkel (whose government is presently threatened for being too green). In fact last minute visits by heads of state are fairly common once the tough crunches finally appear.
Trump showing up would be outrageous, which is just how Trump is. The US delegation is already set to promote fossil fuels in various ways. Even Peabody Energy (read coal) is going to be part of it, which is already pretty outrageous.
Trump should go to Bonn. Just think of the tweets he could send.