Bleary eyed and stunned, I sit and contemplate the result of the US presidential election. Rhetoric of the day before, ringing in my ears – ‘the path to the White House is simply too difficult for Trump to navigate’. I haven’t been so incorrect in forecasting the future since, err, June 23rd.
The UK’s FTSE 100 index was down 82 points (1.2%) in the opening minutes of trading this morning. European stock markets have also fallen with money flowing into gold and ‘safe’ currencies like the Yen. The main fallers on the FTSE so far have been asset managers, banks and life insurance – this sounds all too familiar.
My philosophy is to view the future with optimistic confidence regardless of the landscape and so far this year, I have been challenged.
For all the bombastic rhetoric, there appears to me to have been very little in terms of solid policy from the Trump camp. We know that Trump has promised to ‘protect clean air and clean water’ and ‘preserve natural habitats, reserves and resources’; but at what cost?
The environmental crisis is a global one – Stephen Covey once said:
‘Life is, by nature, highly interdependent. To try to achieve maximum effectiveness through independence is like trying to play tennis with a golf club’
Trump talks of making ‘America energy independent’ and ‘unleashing an energy revolution that will bring vast wealth’ to their country – this does not sit well with me. The agreement made in Paris was signed by 193 independent countries and ratified by 103. It was made powerful by its ability to bind great nations to a common cause – the protection of our global climate through the mitigation of greenhouse gasses. It went into effect on 4 November.
Only five days into its existence, there has arrived a new leader of the ‘free world’ that does not accept the overwhelming scientific evidence that man-made climate change is real. Trump once tweeted:
‘The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.’ (@realDonaldTrump, 7:15 PM – 6 Nov 2012)
Patricia Espinosa, the UN’s top climate official, said last month that there was “no plan B” for the event of a Trump presidency. She also admitted the US election result would have serious “implications” for how the world tackles dangerous climate change.
Whilst the COP22 agreement has significant legitimacy, in May, Trump said he would “cancel” the agreement, which was ratified by Barack Obama and has since received ratification by 55 of the 197 parties to the UN’s climate convention (UNFCCC), representing the required threshold of 55 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions.
Under the terms of the Paris Agreement, he would need to give notice three years after it came into force (last Friday); it would then take a year for the withdrawal to complete. However, if the US withdrew from the 1992 climate convention, which underpins the Paris Agreement, it would only take a year from notice being given to the UN.
The most likely scenario in my view is that Trump will simply ignore America’s commitments under the agreement and this could be more damaging. As the world’s second-largest polluter, the US is responsible for 13 per cent of global emissions. Without support from the US, our ability to deliver the commitments of the agreement looks practically impossible.
Recognition that protection of our tiny rock and the wonderful people that are its inhabitants is only possible when we come together with a common goal, and is the only way to deliver on issues that affect us all. As Trump bounces around the word ‘Independence’ as though it were the pinnacle of evolution, I cannot help pondering another quote from Stephen Covey:
‘Interdependence is a choice only independent people can make’
Perhaps then it is one step back to take two steps forwards – that is the level of my optimism this morning.