Tailpipe Politician

A year ago, the U.S. president announced that he would be pulling out of the climate accord. Now a spirit of ecological optimism prevails in his country, which to Trump supporters must appear like a governmental failure.

If it were already brewed and ready, the political antidote to Donald Trump that is, we would no longer be forced to look into the despondent faces of the European elite who want trade policy made of steel and yet go around like old iron. When backed into a corner former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl would slip out a pithy saying, something ludicrous while also making him sound decidedly thick-skinned, something like: “What is important is what comes out at the end.”

When Kohl came up trumps with this line at a press conference in 1984, the third year of his first tenure as chancellor, he not only deflected criticism away from his style of governing, he also demonstrated a feeling for environmental politics, something that has never been expected of a conservative.

In those days “End-of-Pipe” was growing in popularity, exhaust and sewage purification were installed in line with the green zeitgeist and Kohl had found a style of play that he exported duty-free to the Earth Summit in Rio. It is a style of play that the current American president would prefer to seal off with barbed wire and demarcate as a minefield. A year ago, Trump announced he was backing out of the historic Paris Accord, which has been a crowning achievement of multilateralism. According to him, the climate agreement was restricting his America and was a scandalous money-losing business.

Trump Must Slowly Be Growing Jealous

It was an election pledge to leave the agreement. The first lab assistant producing the Trump antidote and Kohl heiress, Angela Merkel, was no less decided in her election pledges: The energy revolution would go ahead, the climate goals would remain, and the target of a million electric cars in the country would not be abandoned either. Since then, 150 of the country’s cities, communities and regions have not only met the chancellor’s aims, they have outdone her and have made provisions to use 100 percent renewable energy. Nevertheless, what is important is what comes out at the end. Since last year, German investments in renewables have decreased significantly – sooner or later Trump must grow jealous.

In his country, which he wants to emancipate from the chains of environmental politics and renewables, one year after the Paris exodus, a spirit of ecological optimism prevails, which to Trump supporters must seem like a governmental failure. Apple, Google and Wells Fargo have achieved 100 percent green energy. Sixty-five major American cities, states and a good dozen giants from the industry and investor scene, among them Kellogg Co., Visa Inc., Morgan Stanley, T-Mobile U.S., Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co., have committed themselves to ambitious climate objectives, including using 100 percent renewable energy, by entering various green clubs.

It is not only Trump’s Paris announcement which is a year old today; initiatives like “Climate Mayor,” “We are still in,” “U.S. Climate Alliance” and “America’s Pledge” are also celebrating the anniversary. More than 2,700 institutional players are bucking Trump’s cutback policies, according to the World Resources Institute. Whether this environmental defiance will make a difference for the world climate still remains to be seen. But in the end the same is true for everyone: What is important is what comes out at the end.

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