Energy profiteers could derail Paris climate accord

By Dan Steinbock
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Shanghai Daily, December 17, 2015
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That was critical to President Obama to ratify the agreement without sending it to Congress. Most Americans applaud the deal. Washington is a different story. Indeed, national decisions could well undermine global unity about global warming, if the key political actors depend on oil, gas and coal financiers in campaign financing.

In Washington, any climate-change bill must cope with Republican resistance. Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell has warned Obama on "making promises he can't keep" on climate deal, while Speaker of the House Paul Ryan thinks that "science doesn't get climate change." In the Republican 2016 race, the lead belongs to Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. While Trump says that he doesn't believe in climate change, Cruz thinks that the data doesn't support climate change.

Cruz's campaign is funded by billionaires Robert Mercer, Toby Neugebauer, Dan and Farris Wilks. Mercer is a hedge-fund magnate. Neugebauer heads private-equity energy giants. The Wilks brothers made their money in hydraulic fracking. Neither they nor Cruz will support the Paris accord, which would shrink oil and gas profits.

While 99 percent of the world would like to defuse negative climate change scenarios, the one percent that relies financially on oil, gas and coal will resist change.

After Paris, James Hansen, the former NASA scientist who many consider father of climate change awareness, warned that the accord is more promises than action. He believes that greenhouse gas emissions should be taxed across the board. Instead of Washington, he believes more in Chinese leadership — but they will need cooperation, he adds.

The struggle against climate change did not end in Paris. It has only started. What matters in this future battle is not where Washington has failed in the past but where China could succeed in the future.

Dan Steinbock is research director of international business at the India, China and America Institute (US), a visiting fellow at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies (China) and the EU Centre (Singapore). See

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