Saturday, June 3, 2017

Climate News -- Russia and the U.S. Could Be Partners in Climate Change Inaction

Robert Reich is a leader in the anti-trump resistance movement. He is a persistent leader, spearheading forces against Donald Trump’s presidency and staunch advocate for his impeachment.

He certainly has the credentials.

Reich has been Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley since January 2006. He was formerly a professor at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government and professor of social and economic policy at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management of Brandeis University. He has also been a contributing editor of The New Republic, The American Prospect (also chairman and founding editor), Harvard Business Review, The Atlantic, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal.

So it’s worth considering what the man has to say.

Here’s Robert Reich:

What nation and head of state will benefit the most from Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris accord? Russia, and Vladimir Putin. Consider:

1. Russia is a petro-state: It is the world's second-largest exporter of oil, after Saudi Arabia, and biggest exporter of natural gas. If the Paris climate accord starts unraveling, Russia will gain enormously. Russia's top politicians and its largest companies have long been reluctant to reduce fossil fuel extraction and use.

2. Russia is the fifth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world. Yet the plan it submitted under the Paris agreement to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 was3. one of the weakest of any government and actually permits Russia to increase carbon pollution over time. Trump’s decision removes any pressure on Russia to improve its plan. In fact, it could be an invitation for Russia to leave the accord.

3. In fact, Russia is the only major emitter that has not yet formally ratified the accord. Instead, it has laid out a timetable that would delay ratification for almost three years. "Russia will not artificially accelerate the process of ratification of the Paris climate agreement," Russia's special presidential representative on climate, Alexander Bedritsky, said last September.

4. Russia's oil and gas industry contributes about half the revenues to the Russia’s domestic budget.

5. Russia's oil production on land is falling, so it's looking to tap the vast petroleum and gas reserves offshore in the Arctic. A friendly administration in Washington could help. In 2011, Russia and ExxonMobil, under chief executive Rex Tillerson, signed a $500 billion deal to develop oil and gas in the Russian Arctic. But sanctions imposed in 2014 by the Obama administration after Russia's invasion of Ukraine stalled the projects. Tillerson, now secretary of state, and Exxon lobbied against the sanctions. If the Trump administration and the GOP-led Congress lift the sanctions, oil and gas extraction in the Russian Arctic would proceed and unlock a vast amount of greenhouse gases.

6. Russia’s oil and gas sector contributes 45 percentage of Russia's greenhouse gases, according to the UNFCCC's 2014 inventory. Russia's methane emissions account for 2 percent of all global greenhouse gases, the equivalent of emissions from global aviation. The oil and gas sector, in turn, produces 75 percent of Russia's methane emissions.

7. Russian climate policy specialists think U.S. rejection of climate action will deal a blow to the emerging pro-climate voices in Russia. "Russia looks to the U.S. and China's plans on climate change," says Davydova, a Russian environmental journalist and lecturer at St. Petersburg State University. "China might be getting more climate-oriented but if the U.S. pulls out of Paris, it's a huge argument to Russia to go even more slowly."

Connect the dots. Putin is getting everything he wants from Trump.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, shaking hands 
with then-Exxon chief executive Rex Tillerson 
during a 2013 ceremony awarding oil company
heads and employees, now finds himself aligned
philosophically with the U.S. on a lack of enthusiasm
for the Paris climate agreement. 

Credit: Sputnik/Michael Klimentyev/Kremlin/
via REUTERS/File Photo

Russia and the U.S. Could Be Partners in Climate Change Inaction

By Neela Banerjee