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Elon Musk Joins CEOs Calling For US To Stay in Paris Climate Deal (bloomberg.com) 304

Billionaire Elon Musk said on Wednesday he would leave President Trump's Business Advisory Council if the White House withdraws from an international agreement aimed at curbing climate change. From a report: The appeals from chief executives such as Tesla's Musk, Tim Cook of Apple and Dow Chemical's Andrew Liveris come as Trump's advisers also present him with closing arguments on the potential risks and rewards of remaining a party to the global pact. Trump also got an earful from foreign leaders and Pope Francis urging him to stay in the agreement during his first international trip as president. Cook placed a call to the White House on Tuesday to urge the president to keep the U.S. in the agreement, according to a person familiar with the move. Liveris was the driving force behind a letter from 30 major company executives backing the deal. And Musk tweeted Wednesday that he has "done all I can to advise directly to" Trump. If the U.S. leaves Paris, Musk said he would drop participation in White House advisory councils. [...] Twenty-five companies, including Intel, Microsoft and PG&E, have signed on to a letter set to run as a full-page advertisement in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal on Thursday arguing in favor of climate pact.
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Elon Musk Joins CEOs Calling For US To Stay in Paris Climate Deal

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  • Illegal treaty. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    The fact is that this is a treaty that hasn't been approved by 2/3 of the US senate. By that alone it should be invalid but the stupid "treaty on treaties" made us less sovern.

    • by spiritplumber ( 1944222 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2017 @04:10PM (#54520467) Homepage
      Sovern? Wow, it's the second new word I learn today. Can you use it in a sentence with covfefe?
    • I've not been able to track down to verify, but it appeared this agreement in Paris, would have us in the US paying more "tax"...carbon tax, etc on all sorts of things.

      Screw that if true...we pay enough here in the US, and I certainly don't want to pay taxes to the "world" at large.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Mashiki ( 184564 )

        Considering that seems to be the basis of all these agreements. Tax the piss out of the western world, and ignore what's going on in everyone else's, while watching them pay lip service and continue with business as normal. Yeah, I can see why the US would want to pull out. It's the same reason why the Liberals in Ontario are under a voter revolt for the same policies.

        • by Namarrgon ( 105036 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2017 @06:53PM (#54521653) Homepage

          Here's a radical thought: why not read it for yourself [unfccc.int]? It's quite short. Until you do that, you're just echoing the opinions and preconceptions of others.

          If you do, you'll note:
            - the word "tax" does not appear in the Agreement
            - the word "must" does not appear in the Agreement

          The vast majority of it simply encourages parties to use their best efforts to reduce their domestic emissions. Nowhere does it lay down specifics as to what or how, and nowhere does it commit anyone to anything. It's all very vague and voluntary.

          For the paranoid, Articles 9 and 11 are the ones about helping less-developed countries - let me know if you can find any onerous commitments in there. I'll wait.

          • by lgw ( 121541 )

            the word "tax" does not appear in the Agreement

            "Nevertheless, it's a tax, not a penalty" - John Roberts, Chief Justice of the United States

          • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

            You mean besides sections 9(1), 9(3), 9(8), (9)? You know the parts where it basically says "use public money" aka tax the fuck out of your people and shovel it into undeveloped countries? Kinda like what happens here in Canada when we give $400m away for "climate development" with those same regulatory oversights that exist now. When there's 150k-250k homeless here in Canada, serious problems with healthcare, decaying infrastructure, and people who can't afford the medications to keep them alive.

            • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

              by Namarrgon ( 105036 )

              9(1) says developed countries "shall provide financial resources" to undeveloped countries. That's it. Nothing about tax, nothing about how much, nothing even says it has to be beyond existing foreign aid. Countries can provide whatever they like, including loans or loan guarantees. Nothing says it has to be taxpayer money.

              9(3) says developed countries should take the lead in "mobilizing climate finance from a wide variety of sources, instruments and channels,
              noting the significant role of public funds". Ag

              • Unfortunately people use "tax" as a pejorative term, in most cases, in the absence of an argument based on facts/knowledge/understanding
      • by bob4u2c ( 73467 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2017 @04:31PM (#54520627)

        Estimates for the agreement would about $100 billion in funds per year to help out developing nations until 2025. That money would come from developed nations, ie the US being a major funding source. That alone is troubling that the US will pay to clean up other nations pollutions. Except, that is no guarantee, the nations just pledge to clean up. If they do, great; if they don't then there is no penalty or responsibility to pay back the funds.

        So essentially we are just paying to bribe nations to clean up the planet, but if they don't, ehh, no big deal.

        The whole things sounds like the UN, where every country has a vote and a commitment to provide funds and supplies for the common good. However, countries rarely provide funds or supplies when asked; except for the US.

        • Estimates for the agreement would about $100 billion in funds per year to help out developing nations until 2025.

          Whose estimates? Do you have a reasonable source for that claim?

          The whole things sounds like the UN, where every country has a vote and a commitment to provide funds and supplies for the common good. However, countries rarely provide funds or supplies when asked; except for the US.

          Are you aware of the fact that the US is about 1.3 billion US$ in arrears [wikipedia.org] with respect to commitments it has voluntarily entered into?

        • This is an outright lie.

          The Paris agreement is a 100% voluntary "we'll do our best" agreement. It's precisely BECAUSE the US participated in the drafting that the agreement is like that. Trump dropping out of the agreement just ensures the US won't be involved in the future at the expense of an agreement that costs NOTHING.

          The Paris agreement is a promise to do our best to lower carbon emissions and no one but us gets to decide what our best is. There is nothing hostile or bad about this agreement unless yo

      • by Geoffrey.landis ( 926948 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2017 @04:33PM (#54520639) Homepage

        I've not been able to track down to verify, but it appeared this agreement in Paris, would have us in the US paying more "tax"...carbon tax, etc on all sorts of things.

        Nope. The Paris agreement commits each nation "to put forward their best efforts."
        That's it.

        • Which is why Nicaragua didn't sign it. [time.com]. The other non-signer, Syria, is in a civil war.

          The US is alone in insisting "climate change isn't real because fuck you, liberals, scientists, and future generations, that's why."
        • if its non binding its pointless to sign it! i mean what reason is there really if thats all it means? so that a smug group of people can pat themselves on the back saying they "did something"??
        • The Paris agreement commits each nation "to put forward their best efforts."
          That's it.

          Funny thing -- I went and pulled up the text of the Paris Agreement [unfccc.int] and couldn't find the words "put forward their best efforts" anywhere.

          What I found were words like "bound," "obligation," and 117 instances of the word "shall" sprinkled like croutons in the 7300+ word salad.

          But hey, let's say all that really does just compress down to "put forward their best efforts." If that's really true, "withdrawing" from such an amorphous "commitment" may not change anything at all in the real world and thus all this

          • Why not actually read it for yourself? It's only a few pages of relevant text, minimal legalese, well within high-school capabilities. Counting words tells you nothing, any more than the instances of "shall" in the US Constitution.

            Then you'll see for yourself that there really are no specific commitments, and all actions are nationally determined and best-effort. Nothing is legally binding.

            And yes, it's all largely symbolic, but statements of intent are still important. If Trump stays or withdraws, it chang

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by srmalloy ( 263556 )

        ...and I certainly don't want to pay taxes to the "world" at large.

        Unfortunately, that's the entire premise of UN climate policy. In a 2010 interview [thegwpf.com] with Ottmar Edenhofer, then co-chair of the IPCC Working Group III, he stated: "One must say clearly that we redistribute de facto the world's wealth by climate policy ... One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy any more. ... That will change immediately if global emission rights are distributed. If this happe

        • by Namarrgon ( 105036 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2017 @07:52PM (#54522027) Homepage

          First, if you read that in context, Edenhofer is clearly just reminding people that environmental policy is inextricably tied to economic policy, which seems obvious enough - if you accept that emissions are tied to growth. However, since that 2010 interview, and for the first time in history, that's clearly no longer the case - growth has continued, while emissions have actually slowed. A big reason for that is another thing he's been proved wrong about - gas is cheap now. The dramatic drop in cost of renewables is another.

          But none of this is particularly relevant, because the IPCC does not set policies - countries do that. The IPCC's primary role is science - citing the evidence for climate change, and assembling the best predictions we can make, so that countries can make informed policies instead of reacting blindly. The science of what's happening to the planet exists independently of any responses we might choose to take.

          Comments like yours are designed as distractions, attempts to discredit the organisations, but they can't make the evidence go away. You can certainly argue for your preferred policies or solutions, but you can't challenge the science with FUD about bureaucracies. Nature doesn't care, and closing your eyes to what's really happening is only going to raise the cost of coping with it.

    • by Anubis IV ( 1279820 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2017 @05:12PM (#54520919)

      I thought you were full of it because I didn't think that was even possible, so I went to look for evidence to the contrary. Instead, it turns out that you're actually right. From The Guardian's reporting [theguardian.com] of the US ratifying the Paris Agreement last year (emphasis mine):

      In Washington, the Republican-controlled Congress has questioned Obama’s legal right to ratify the accord by decree, noting that the constitution grants the Senate a role of “advice and consent” in making treaties.

      But the chamber does not ratify treaties, and the US also has increasingly relied on “executive agreements” since the second world war. Those agreements are not submitted to the Senate but are also considered binding in international law.

      Wikipedia talks about ratification in the US [wikipedia.org] in a bit more detail, since it's apparently more nuanced than I even realized as an American (again, emphasis mine):

      Treaty power is a co-ordinated effort between the Executive branch and the Senate. The President may form and negotiate, but the treaty must be advised and consented to by a two-thirds vote in the Senate. Only after the Senate approves the treaty can the President ratify it. [...]

      The US can also enter into international agreements by way of executive agreements. They are not made under the Treaty Clause and do not require ratification of two thirds of the Senate. [...] If the agreement is completely within the President's constitutional powers, it can be made by the President alone without Congressional approval, but it will have the force of an executive order and can be unilaterally revoked by a future President. All types of agreements are treated internationally as "treaties".

      So, basically, a President has the authority to make executive agreements [wikipedia.org] that bind their office, inasmuch as those agreements do not extend beyond their authority. Without having looked into the specifics of the Paris Agreement, I don't know if any of its requirements go beyond the authority of what the President alone can do, but if they don't, then Obama's actions were entirely legal, even if they commit future Presidents, such as Trump, to abiding by the terms of the agreement lest they face consequences.

      Of course, if the Paris Agreement required anything beyond the President's authority, then you're quite correct about it being an illegal ratification, in which case...well...nothing really changes. Trump would still have the authority to revoke it, but his office would still be bound by it anyway, given that it has already entered into force internationally.

      • Trump would still have the authority to revoke it, but his office would still be bound by it anyway

        That's a mighty creative definition of the word "revoke" -- one that your Wikipedia article doesn't even espouse. Probably because it doesn't work that way [cornell.edu].

        • Actually, it does. From page 7 of your own link:

          The President is free to revoke, modify, or supersede his own orders or those issued by a predecessor.

          Which is exactly what I said.

          As for his being "bound by it anyway", I was referring to the fact that the international laws still apply to us on account of them already entering into effect, which would have been a bit clearer to you if you had included the second half of my sentence in that quote you pulled.

          • And it's the last part of your statement that is nonsense (the part that I snipped being a nonsense reason for the nonsense proposition I didn't snip). The current President can't take actions that bind the hands of future Presidents; the current Congress can't take actions that bind the hands of future Congresses, etc., for very good and very obvious reasons. Read more carefully the actual legal paper I referenced.

            It's amazing to me the number of people who think themselves clever enough to suddenly come

  • OK, Musk's battery factory is in California and has to operate under some pretty strict environmental regulations. But Cook's company outsources all the manufacturing to China where who knows what is dumped in the rivers/ocean/air so I don't think he has much ground to complain about US pollution levels which are nowhere near the problem some places in the world are.

    • by Fire_Wraith ( 1460385 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2017 @04:21PM (#54520557)
      A couple of nitpicks:
      One, the battery factory is in Nevada. Musk's car factory is in California, as is his rocket factory.
      Two, the pollution this agreement deals with is the sort that has an affect on a global scale, hence the need for a global agreement.
      Three, China is actually stating they'll remain in the Paris agreement regardless of what Trump does.

      If Trump thinks he can negotiate a better deal, then I'm pretty sure most people, including those CEOs, would be all for him taking a crack at it. What he's considering is nothing of the sort.
      • Two, the pollution this agreement deals with is the sort that has an affect on a global scale, hence the need for a global agreement.

        2A, this agreement requires nothing be done before 2020 (Yes, Obama signed onto something that wouldn't actually take effect till the end of Hillary's/Trump's first term).

        2B, The $100B/year that it is projected to cost is a myth. India alone needs almost twice that, according to India's government.

        2C, guess who was expected to pay for the whole thing?

      • I've traveled a lot in China and I'm pretty confident that if they meet the treaty requirements it will be because the official government report says they did.

      • China doesn't actually have to DO anything (except build more coal plants) until 2030 or so. Why wouldn't they remain?
    • But Cook's company outsources all the manufacturing to China

      *If only [theintercept.com].

      * Dow and DuPont are in the process of merging.

  • Well.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JWW ( 79176 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2017 @04:16PM (#54520505)

    If you don't want international agreements of the United States to be predicated on the whims of Presidents, then you should make the international agreements treaties....

    • by Trogre ( 513942 )

      And actually ratify them so they apply.

    • the US is free to choose whether it wants to consider the agreement a treaty (and pass it through the senate) or not. But it's not up to other countries to decide which kind of internal procedure the US should take to sign this international agreement.

      Nothing in the agreement requires the consent of the US senate, by the way.

    • Easy for you to say.

  • Considering that Obama never sent the treaty to the Senate for ratification, the United states was never a signer of this treaty.

    The reason Obama never sent it to the Senate is that both Republicans AND Democrats were against it and would not vote for it.

    This is not about Trump and his policy's. This is about America and what a terrible treaty this would be for America and all Americans if the Senate ratified it as currently written.

    Trump would be smart to punt this to the Senate and let everyone see that m

    • by DogDude ( 805747 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2017 @04:54PM (#54520805)
      his is about America and what a terrible treaty this would be for America and all Americans

      Yeah, it would be terrible to prevent a few hundred thousand deaths a year. Terrrible.
      http://www.sciencedirect.com/s... [sciencedirect.com]
    • by swillden ( 191260 ) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Wednesday May 31, 2017 @04:58PM (#54520827) Homepage Journal

      Considering that Obama never sent the treaty to the Senate for ratification, the United states was never a signer of this treaty.

      One nit: Treaties are rarely sent to the Senate for ratification. That's the constitutionally-defined process, but getting 2/3 approval of the senate is generally harder than getting a majority in both House and Senate. So usually what we do is to write legislation that contains the treaty terms and pass it through both houses and then on to the White House for signature like any other purely-domestic law. Treaties handled this way are called "congressional-executive agreements", and it's been the usual treaty process for most of the nation's history.

      For completeness, in addition to congressional-executive agreements and formal treaties, there is one other type of international agreements the US enters into, called a "sole-executive agreement". Those are signed only by the president, because the terms commit the US only to things that are within the president's power to direct. A common example is treaties related to the behavior of US military forces stationed in other countries, called Status of Forces Agreements. As commander-in-chief, the president can order the military to abide by the agreements, so there's no need for Congress to get involved.

      • "Congressional-executive agreements" are honestly the best way to do it, frankly, as any ratified treaty becomes as binding as the US Constitution itself and it's significantly tougher to back out of it if it's suddenly a bad treaty for the country. If we align our laws to match foreign treaties, then we can use the same law passing power (simple majority) to get out of it if necessary. Other countries may not feel as confident in that model as the Constitutional Treaty, but these days I believe other count

        • any ratified treaty becomes as binding as the US Constitution itself

          That's not true. It's a common mis-reading of the Supremacy Clause, but it's wrong, and SCOTUS has made that clear in multiple rulings. Specifically, the Clause says:

          This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary not

  • >> [Famous CEO] Joins CEOs Calling For US to [Do Something]

    Too bad HRC wasn't elected. I doubt she would have resisted the will of any group of CEOs / Global Initiative sponsors.
  • by NetNed ( 955141 )
    Was this right before he hit a big red button launching a giant carbon producing SpaceX rocket in to space then turning to the camera with a smile and a big thumbs up??? Gee, that really "hits home". Couldn't have anything to do with him making a lot of money off of carbon credits, could it???
  • To remove yourself from a position where you can (hopefully) continue to try to influence Trump, to a position where you cannot influence him harms everyone.

    Make your objections, make them loudly, but don't quit the council. We need you there.

    • To remove yourself from a position where you can (hopefully) continue to try to influence Trump, to a position where you cannot influence him harms everyone.

      Make your objections, make them loudly, but don't quit the council. We need you there.

      If Musk feels that he cannot actually influence Trump, and he's just there for window-dressing, then he should leave.

      And I doubt Musk would succeed. Trump pretty much listens only to himself.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 31, 2017 @04:55PM (#54520813)

    I realize this is going to be an unpopular analysis, but hear me out. Let's do a cost/benefit analysis:

    Cost:
    The estimated cost of being in the treaty is $1.28 trillion. *

    Benefit:
    *IF* everyone meets their goals (which they wont), the temperature will reduce 0.05C by 2100 *from* the projected 5C. (so an increase of only 4.95C) **

    Some other facts:
    - The global temperature increase which scientists say will be "catastrophic and irreversible" is 2C ***

    So, the question you need to ask yourself is NOT "am I a good person, because I'm 'doing something'?", but rather "Do I want to pay $1,280,000,000,000 to jog off a cliff rather than sprint off a cliff?"

    Yes, we should do our best to keep the planet clean and the habitable - but is stuffing $1.28T into this the best way to go about it? Couldn't the money be better spent on battery technology, nation-wide electrical fill stations, hyperloops, and other technology we have not even thought of yet (rather than paying someone like Kenya for carbon credits to excuse us using old polluting technology we can't afford to replace)?

    * https://www.eenews.net/stories/1060042242
    ** http://www.lomborg.com/press-release-research-reveals-negligible-impact-of-paris-climate-promises
    *** https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jun/02/everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-paris-climate-summit-and-un-talks

    • Battery tech is fine. But electric fill stations are useless. Gas cars are cheaper to own and operate and likely will be unless bat tech gets a _lot_ better. As for Hyperloops, a) good luck getting Americans to use them, we like our cross country drives and b) even better luck getting an infrastructure bill passed in America (you tax and spend liberal you).

      Yeah, it's a bad treaty. But it's the kind of treaty you get in a screwed up world like this. And for the most part nobody wants to fix the things th
    • The estimated cost of being in the treaty is $1.28 trillion. *

      Bullshit, the cost is 0, because there is no commitment within that treaty. You can't sue the USA for not respecting the goal of keeping the planet under an increase of 2 C.

      Couldn't the money be better spent on battery technology, nation-wide electrical fill stations, hyperloops, and other technology we have not even thought of yet (rather than paying someone like Kenya for carbon credits to excuse us using old polluting technology we can't afford to replace)?

      Let say your 1.28 Trillion was true. Where do you think that money will go? The goal of carbon taxes / cap and trade systems is exactly to help the development of new battery technologies and other stuff that will help fight global warming. If it's more efficient to do it in Kenya then why not?

    • Opportunity cost!
    • *IF* everyone meets their goals (which they wont), the temperature will reduce 0.05C by 2100 *from* the projected 5C. (so an increase of only 4.95C) **

      Yes if the agreement is an end in off itself. It's not. It's a start. It has a date well before 2100, so extrapolating to there based on a deadline many years earlier is an abuse of science.

      But really I don't give a shit about temperature rises. It would be nice however to sit at work and not breath in the fumes of the coal plant next door, it would be nice not to wipe my windows down every month to remove a layer of black diesel soot. It would be nice to smell that clean country air anywhere near a populat

    • Each year the US loses $600 billion due to the health problems caused by using coal as an energy source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/j... [forbes.com] . That doesn't include any negative effects from climate change.

      Gasoline-related health problem estimates are $1.7 trillion per year: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/... [huffingtonpost.com] . Again, that doesn't include any negative effects from climate change.

      So yes, I'd like to spend $1.3 trillion a year in an effort to stop harming my neighbors.

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