There is a great deal to fear about Donald Trump’s presidency, but perhaps highest on the list of all is his vow to pull the United States out of the global climate accord and to scrap President Obama’s efforts to limit carbon emissions here through executive action.

As David Roberts explains, the election of Trump signals that the U.S. will not play a leadership role in global efforts to continue reducing carbon emissions towards a long-term goal that might plausibly avert widespread human suffering and dislocation, making such a fate more likely.

That’s the big picture. But the short-term granular picture is important, too. How much can Trump really do right away to realize his pledges to scrap our participation in the Paris accord and to scuttle Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which is designed to reduce our own carbon emissions?

A lot, unfortunately. Coral Davenport of the New York Times has a good piece explaining the nuts and bolts on both fronts. Her conclusion, delivered with deft understatement, is this: “Pessimism appears to be warranted.” Indeed it does:

Mr. Trump cannot legally block other countries from fulfilling their Paris agreement commitments, nor can he quickly or unilaterally erase Mr. Obama’s climate rules.
But he can, as president, choose not to carry out the Paris plan in the United States. And he could so substantially slow or weaken the enforcement of Mr. Obama’s rules that they would have little impact on reducing emissions in the United States, at least during Mr. Trump’s term.
That could doom the Paris agreement’s goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions enough to stave off an atmospheric warming of at least 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, the point at which, many scientists say, the planet will be locked into an irreversible future of extreme and dangerous warming.
Without the full participation of the United States, the world’s second-largest greenhouse gas polluter, after China, that goal is probably unattainable, even if every other country follows through on its pledges.

Key to our abilities to meet our Paris commitments is the Clean Power Plan, which is one of the most important and consequential aspects of Obama’s legacy. It employs Environmental Protection Agency rules under the Clean Air Act to direct the states to hit targets for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plans, with the goal of reducing our overall emissions by 32 percent from 2005 levels by the year 2030.

Donald Trump will enter the White House with an environmental policy agenda opposed to that of the Obama administration. (Daron Taylor/The Washington Post)

Even if Trump were not able to scuttle implementation of the Clean Power Plan, it is being challenged in court by two dozen states and industry groups, and it is likely to go to the Supreme Court soon. Once Republicans confirm a fifth conservative justice to the Court — Trump will pick one that Republicans and conservatives want, bank on it — that will likely make the plan’s legal survival less likely. Which underscores yet another way in which the consequences of Senate Republicans’ refusal to act on Obama’s replacement for Antonin Scalia could be dire indeed. Meanwhile, whatever happens before the court, Trump can use executive means to slow implementation of the E.P.A. rule in various ways.

Now, it is possible that Trump will surprise us and ultimately decide against pulling us out of the Paris accord. As Bloomberg reports, some world leaders believe that there’s still a chance he will not go through with it, because it could create massive international diplomatic complications and render the United States an outlier amid the global trend towards acceptance of a need to tackle global warming. As the world’s second largest greenhouse gas emitter, that would make us a rather gigantic outlier.

Regardless, representatives from many nations are currently gathered in Morocco for a conference, where they are trying to figure out how to lock in commitments to the accord. The potentially disastrous implications of Trump’s victory for the deal is a big topic of discussion there. In a sense, then, from their perspective, world leaders are literally scrambling to save the planet from Donald Trump, before it is too late.

It is often objected that the Paris accord is unlikely to be sufficient to the long term global warming challenge in any case. That is a legitimate worry. But the whole idea behind it is to set in motion a cycle in which countries — prompted by each other’s actions — continue to build on their own progress in a kind of mutually reinforcing cycle. What’s more, if we press ahead now, it holds out at least the chance of putting us on a path to much more renewal energy use and more private sector innovation that could make a real difference over the long term.

True, we don’t know for certain if the Paris accord will be sufficient if we do remain a part of it. But if the U.S. were to stay committed to it, at least we’d be able to find out if it will be. Now we likely will not do that — and may even end up being an active force in preventing it from succeeding. If there is one place where we should hope to be pleasantly surprised by Trump, it’s here.


* TRUMP’S TEAM ALREADY STOCKED WITH D.C. INSIDERS: “Outsider” candidate Trump promised to “drain the swamp” in Washington. But CNN’s Tal Kopan reports:

Trump’s transition team is staffed with long-time Washington experts and lobbyists from K Street, think tanks and political offices…he has so far fully embraced lobbyists within his transition, and all signs point to a heavy influence from longtime Washington Republican circles on his transition. And with Trump mostly skipping detailed policy proposals during his campaign, they can have a powerful impact on his agenda.

Shocking, isn’t it? This is yet another sign that Trump very well govern much as a conventional Republican president would — tax cuts, deregulation — and not as a scourge of the elites.

* DEMS BLAST CLINTON’S FAILURE WITH BLUE COLLAR WHITES: The recriminations are underway, and Politico reports that some Democrats believe Clinton lost because of her “limited outreach” to working class whites, something Bill Clinton pushed harder for:

In general, Bill Clinton’s viewpoint of fighting for the working class white voters was often dismissed with a hand wave by senior members of the team as a personal vendetta to win back the voters who elected him, from a talented but aging politician who simply refused to accept the new Democratic map. At a meeting ahead of the convention…senior strategist Joel Benenson told the former president bluntly that the voters from West Virginia were never coming back to his party.

This portends a bruising argument among Democrats over how to get these voters back — with more economic populism, or by sanding down the party’s cultural appeals to the new Democratic coalition.

* SENATOR MERKLEY ALLEGES ‘STOLEN’ COURT SEAT: On MSNBC’s Chris Hayes show last night, Senator Jeff Merkley made the provocative charge that Republicans had “stolen” the current court vacancy by refusing to act on it for much of this year. He said:

“The seat that is sitting empty is being stolen…there’s no legitimacy to a Supreme Court justice in a seat that’s been stolen from one administration and handed to another…this is going to corrupt our political system in a way never envisioned or intended by our Constitution for a generation to come.  And so, we need to be talking about it.”

Once the post-election niceties are over, we may be entering into a kind of Total War period.

* McCONNELL MIGHT NOT BE ABLE TO SCRAP FILIBUSTER: The New York Times reports that Mitch McConnell won’t say whether he’ll end the filibuster for legislation or Supreme Court nominees. And:

It is not clear that Mr. McConnell, even if he wanted to, could round up enough votes from his own party to curtail the Senate filibuster, since some veteran Republican senators such as Susan Collins of Maine would probably be opposed. However, if Senate Democrats were able to frustrate the unified Republican government through the filibuster, the forces behind Mr. Trump’s election and agenda…would be likely to push Mr. McConnell and his colleagues to get rid of it.

If Democrats exercise even a fraction of the obstruction that Republicans did during the Obama years, the roar from the right to kill it will be deafening.

* TRUMP IS LIKELY TO REVOKE PROTECTIONS FOR DREAMers: This is a good catch by Bloomberg’s Sahil Kapur:

The immigration section of Trump’s presidential transition website reaffirms his plans to “cancel unconstitutional executive orders” — which his advisers have said includes President Barack Obama’s 2012 program that has protected from deportation 750,000 young people brought to the U.S. illegally.

As I noted yesterday, revoking protections and work permits from DREAMers is going to be a very big story, and very revealing of the true nature of the coming Trump presidency.

* TRUMP WIN COULD USHER IN MORE VOTER SUPPRESSION: A disconcerting point from Paul Krugman about the long-term damage Trump’s victory might bring:

The political damage will extend far into the future, too. The odds are that some terrible people will become Supreme Court justices. States will feel empowered to engage in even more voter suppression than they did this year. At worst, we could see a slightly covert form of Jim Crow become the norm all across America.

Needless to say, there won’t be any Congressional effort to fix the gutted Voting Rights Act. Ironically, Trump’s victory may mean our elections will grow more “rigged,” not less.