How did we get to the Trump presidency and the current political moment? How might things get worse and what can we do to build an alternative? In her new book, Naomi Klein offers what she describes as “a plan for how, if we keep our heads, we might just be able to flip the script and arrive at a radically better future.” Arundhati Roy calls No Is Not Enough “an ordinary person’s guide to hope.” Order your copy today by making a donation to Truthout!
The United States has refused to sign on to a G7 pledge saying the 2015 landmark Paris climate accord is “irreversible.” On Monday, the US said it would not join the six other member nations in signing on to the pledge. This comes after President Trump announced he was pulling the US out of the historic accord. For more on Paris, the climate and the Trump administration, we speak with best-selling author and journalist Naomi Klein, whose new book is No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need.
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, earlier this month, President Trump announced he will withdraw from the United — the United States from the landmark Paris climate accord that was signed by nearly 200 nations in 2015.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: As of today, the United States will cease all implementation of the nonbinding Paris accord and the draconian financial and economic burdens the agreement imposes on our country.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: In his speech, Trump said he wants to negotiate a better climate deal.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: So we’re getting out, but we will start to negotiate, and we will see if we can make a deal that’s fair. And if we can, that’s great. And if we can’t, that’s fine. … I’m willing to immediately work with Democratic leaders to either negotiate our way back into Paris, under the terms that are fair to the United States and its workers, or to negotiate a new deal that protects our country and its taxpayers.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Naomi Klein, a better deal?
NAOMI KLEIN: I just can’t wait, Juan. I mean, it’s been — took 25 years to get this deal, but I’m just looking for to another 25 years — right? — to get an even better deal, because when it comes to climate change, we’ve got nothing but time, you know? Sorry. That was unfair sarcasm for Democracy Now!
But no, I — I mean, everything about what he said is just so extraordinary, and in particular this idea that the deal is unfair to the United States, that it’s this draconian, top-down. I mean, the deal is so weak, right? And the reason it is weak is because it doesn’t impose anything on anyone. And the people who made sure of that were the US negotiators, who fought tooth and nail — and this is not under Trump, this is under Obama — but, you know, in large part because they had to bring the deal back to the US, and if it was a binding treaty, they would have had to get it ratified by a Republican-controlled House, and they knew that they couldn’t, right? So the US fought the world, which wanted a legally binding treaty, and said, “Well, then you won’t have us involved.”
So, what the deal actually is is really just a kind of patchwork of the best that every country could bring to the table. The US brought Obama’s Clean Power Plan, a plan to accelerate the decommissioning of coal-fired power plants, new restrictions on new coal-fired power plants that would require that they sequester more carbon. It was a fraction of what the US needed to do to do its share of the goal of the Paris accord, which is to keep warming below 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius. You know, then that deal was announced, I joked that the governments of the world came together and said, “We know it what we need to do, and we’re willing to do roughly half that.” Right? Because if you add it up, what all the governments brought to the table, it didn’t lead to a trajectory that would keep warming below what they said they wanted to do, but it would lead to warming of double that.
But under Trump, they had already announced that weren’t even going to do that. So this whole debate about Paris was whether or not the US was going to stay in the accord but treat it as if it wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on, which would have had, you know, a very insidious moral hazard for other governments, because then if you have a volunteer, kind of good-faith agreement and the largest economy in the world is treating it like a joke, which is what would have happened if Trump had stayed — they made that clear as soon as they said that they were rolling back the Clean Power Plan — then that would have encouraged other governments that were already starting to slip, like the government of Canada, under Trudeau — you know, went to Paris, made all kinds of wonderful speeches and then went home and approved two new tar sands pipelines and cheered when President Trump approved the Keystone XL pipeline. So that’s three new tar sands pipelines. You know —
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, that’s — I wanted to ask you about that, just the impact on the climate change movement within the last three months, all of these reversals of Trump —
NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: — Keystone, Dakota Access.
NAOMI KLEIN: Right.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: What’s your sense now of how the movement will be able to function?
NAOMI KLEIN: Right.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And also, the importance of the local resistance, of cities and states, to the federal government?
NAOMI KLEIN: Well, to be honest, I mean, I think that this — just the shock of just seeing Trump in the Rose Garden just lifting that middle finger to the world, I think that is proving to be more of a catalyst for other countries and for states here in the US and cities here in the US to understand that this is the moment to step up, to increase ambitions, whereas I think if it had been more ambiguous and they had stayed in and sort of pretended like there was something happening — and, well, is Ivanka having a good influence on him? Are things about to get better? — I mean, I don’t think we would have seen this kind of very bold response of having hundreds of mayors step forward and say, “No, we’re committed to Paris,” the mayor of Pittsburgh coming forward and saying — you know, after Trump said, “I was elected by the people of Pittsburgh, not the people of Paris,” the mayor of Pittsburgh stepping up and going, “Actually, you were not elected in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh voted for Hillary. And I’m going to get the city of Pittsburgh to 100 percent renewable energy by the year 2035,” which is exactly the level of ambition we need across the board if we’re going to hit that ambitious temperature target in the Paris accord, if we’re going to keep temperatures below 1.5. So, you know, that — I think this is —
AMY GOODMAN: And then you have the —
NAOMI KLEIN: Obviously, we would like this not to be happening. We would like Donald Trump not to be president. We would like not to have such an array of bad options on the table. But given what we have, I would say that people are stepping up. And that is what the climate movement needs to be doing, is sending this very clear message that because of the recklessness, because the US at the federal level has gone rogue, at every level that Trump does not control, whether it is universities and their fossil fuel holdings, you know, whether it is states and their ability to get to 100 percent renewable very, very quickly — because we don’t get our energy at the federal level; we get it at the state level, we get it at the provincial level, we get it at the city level — at all those places where Trump doesn’t control things, there has to be an increase of ambition. And thankfully, the climate justice movement is, you know, I think, really focused on that and understands that that’s the mission now. And I think we’re seeing more ambition, including universities being likelier to divest their holdings, putting financial pressure on the industry.