If – as anticipated – Donald Trump goes to war on the climate and withdraws the USA from the Paris Accord – he will be the silliest politician since King Lear raged at the storm clouds!
Not only will he be isolated from 197 other nations who have signed the accord (and the 146 nations – apart from the USA) which have ratified it, but he will be at odds with the shareholders of the businesses he’s relying on to make America great again.
Shareholders against climate change
This week, the shareholders of one of America’s great polluters- Exxon – voted by a 62% majority to require Exxon’s management to produce a sustainability statement on what Exxon was doing to reduce its carbon footprint.
“This is an historic vote – despite strong opposition from the board, the majority of Exxon’s shareholders have sent an unequivocal signal to the company that it must do much more to disclose the impact on its business of measures to combat climate change,”
said Edward Mason, head of responsible investment for the Church Commissioners.
The mobilisation of the voting rights that made this and similar votes possible has been down to a number of activists both within the global fund managers and without.
The vindication of the great work from Share Action, Manifest, Pirc and others lobbying for sustainable behaviours within companies such as Exxon , is reinforced by the growing activism within fund managers such as Hermes and Legal and General.
Donald Trump does not listen to liberal arguments, but he listens to money. Money is talking and it is telling him in no uncertain terms that Paris matters more than populism.
Workplace pensions against climate change
All of us can point to changes at home and work that result from us embracing the Paris Accord. Whether it be our household recycling or in our workplace practices, we are all doing our bit. Even in workplace pensions, we are doing our bit! I would love to say “especially” rather than “even” but that will come!
Earlier this year, one of our largest DC pension scheme, the scheme that will provide retirement benefits for more than 100,000 workers within HSBC, decided to reinvest its default investment in a fund that tracks the FTSE Future World index. This index tilts investment towards companies that have a deliberate policy to behave in a way that makes the aims of the Paris Accord a reality.
In every occupational DC report, there now needs to be a statement on the sustainability strategy of the trustees. Some IGCs are addressing such issues voluntarily. NEST has recently adopted a sustainability policy within its investment strategy.
Europe and China against climate change
Chinese and EU leaders are to agree a joint statement on the Paris climate agreement saying it is “an imperative more important than ever”.
A draft of the document, seen by the BBC, stresses the “highest political commitment” to implement the deal.
It will be widely seen as a rebuff to the US, as President Trump prepares to announce on Thursday if the US is withdrawing from the accord.
The joint statement will be published on Friday after a summit in Brussels.
Even Trump’s own daughter is against her father on this
Ivana Trump is one of the many people reported to be in the President of the United States’ ear.
The youth of the world have most to lose from a blighted planet. Any parent will find it hard to justify in any way opposition to the aims of the Paris Accord.
Whether it be on business, geo-political or on parental grounds, Trump is looking like a loser. He is supported by his constituency of disaffected American voters but no-one else.
Ultimately, he will not be able to emit more filth into the American atmosphere than he is emitting from the White House as he has no mandate over shareholder resolutions or even the resolution of his own children.
What is the alternative?
The Paris accord is meant to limit the global rise in temperature attributed to emissions.
Countries agreed to:
- Keep global temperatures “well below” the level of 2C (3.6F) above pre-industrial times and “endeavour to limit” them even more, to 1.5C
- Limit the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by human activity to the same levels that trees, soil and oceans can absorb naturally, beginning at some point between 2050 and 2100
- Review each country’s contribution to cutting emissions every five years so they scale up to the challenge
- Enable rich countries to help poorer nations by providing “climate finance” to adapt to climate change and switch to renewable energy
Can Trump even declare such a war?
In Paris, the world spoke as one (well Syria and Nicaragua abstained!). The world is now acting as one.
Trump cannot win a war on climate change – it is looking increasingly unlikely he can even start one.