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UN Chief Calls World 'a Mess' as Trump Expected to Quit Paris Agreement

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UN Chief Calls World 'a Mess' as Trump Expected to Quit Paris Agreement
UN Secretary-General António Guterres

Axios reported Wednesday morning that Donald Trump is planning on exiting the Paris Agreement, and is considering both exiting the deal itself as well as pulling out of the larger UNFCCC treaty, according to two sources within the White House.


UN Secretary-General António Guterres said Tuesday countries must "get on board or get left behind" with the agreement. While he steered clear of naming Donald Trump specifically in his speech at New York University's Stern School of Business, Guterres told an audience member in a Q&A session that exiting the deal could have economic, social and security implications for any countries that choose to pull out. Guterres told the crowd "the world is in a mess" to highlight the importance of the agreement and the threat climate change brings to the world.

"If Trump forces the United States out of the Paris agreement as we stand on the brink of climate catastrophe, he makes himself guilty of what looks like a grave crime against humanity, the planet Earth, and future generations," said Uffe Elbæk, leader of Denmark's green party The Alternative and former Danish minister of culture. "It will be a betrayal of science, common sense and the historic role of the United States."

In Washington, DC, White House Press Sec. Sean Spicer reported Trump met with Scott Pruitt on the accords Tuesday and is aiming for "a fair deal for the American people" on Paris (curiously, Spicer claims he hasn't asked whether Trump believed climate change is influenced by human activity).

"This latest example shows how President Trump appears to go further down the road with an outdated economic model," said Yannick Jadot, Greens/EFA MEP, vice-chair of the Committee on International Trade and member of the Energy Committee. "In today's world, it is not an option to separate the fight against climate change from the economy. Governments must tackle the two issues hand in hand.

"Instead of throwing millions of dollars into subsidies for coal power, President Trump should take the opportunity to put climate protection in place. This would generate much bigger opportunities for job creation and the economy as a whole," he added.

For a deeper dive:

Exiting: Axios. Guterres: AP, BBC, FT, The Guardian, Axios, Reuters, InsideClimate News, The Hill, Mashable. Trump: New York Times, AP, CNN, Politico Pro, E&E, Bloomberg, The Hill. Global implications: FT. Commentary: Washington Post, Chris Mooney analysis, The Atlantic, Robinson Meyer analysis, Axios, Amy Harder analysis, Vox, David Roberts analysis, The Guardian, Joseph Robertson op-ed, San Francisco Chronicle editorial, ThinkProgress, Joe Romm column, WSJ, Cliff Forrest op-ed, CNN, Ted Cruz op-ed

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up for daily Hot News.

A plume of smoke from wildfires burning in the Angeles National Forest is seen from downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 29, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

California is bracing for rare January wildfires this week amid damaging Santa Ana winds coupled with unusually hot and dry winter weather.

High winds, gusting up to 80- to 90 miles per hour in some parts of the state, are expected to last through Wednesday evening. Nearly the entire state has been in a drought for months, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which, alongside summerlike temperatures, has left vegetation dry and flammable.

Utilities Southern California Edison and PG&E, which serves the central and northern portions of the state, warned it may preemptively shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers to reduce the risk of electrical fires sparked by trees and branches falling on live power lines. The rare January fire conditions come on the heels of the worst wildfire season ever recorded in California, as climate change exacerbates the factors causing fires to be more frequent and severe.

California is also experiencing the most severe surge of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with hospitals and ICUs over capacity and a stay-at-home order in place. Wildfire smoke can increase the risk of adverse health effects due to COVID, and evacuations forcing people to crowd into shelters could further spread the virus.

As reported by AccuWeather:

In the atmosphere, air flows from high to low pressure. The setup into Wednesday is like having two giant atmospheric fans working as a team with one pulling and the other pushing the air in the same direction.
Normally, mountains to the north and east of Los Angeles would protect the downtown which sits in a basin. However, with the assistance of the offshore storm, there will be areas of gusty winds even in the L.A. Basin. The winds may get strong enough in parts of the basin to break tree limbs and lead to sporadic power outages and sparks that could ignite fires.
"Typically, Santa Ana winds stay out of downtown Los Angeles and the L.A. Basin, but this time, conditions may set up just right to bring 30- to 40-mph wind gusts even in those typically calm condition areas," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.

For a deeper dive:

AP, LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, Weather Channel, AccuWeather, New York Times, Slideshow: New York Times; Climate Signals Background: Wildfires, 2020 Western wildfire season

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, sign up for daily Hot News, and visit their news site, Nexus Media News.

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