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U.S. Begins Formal Withdrawal From Paris Climate Accord. Here’s What You Need to Know

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  • The Trump administration officially announced it is withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris Agreement on climate change. The removal will fully take effect on Nov. 4, 2020.
  • President Donald Trump has long said he would pull the U.S. out of the deal, which he argued hurts the country’s competitiveness.
  • Critics have argued that the move will hurt the overall effectiveness of the deal because other countries will see the U.S., formerly a global climate leader, backing out of its commitments.

Trump Administration Announces Official Withdrawal

The Trump administration announced Monday that it has officially started the process of fully withdrawing the United States from the landmark Paris Agreement on climate change.

The international accord, first announced in 2015, was eventually signed by 195 countries that pledged to mitigate climate change and cut their greenhouse gas emissions, among other things.

The U.S. signed on in 2016 under the Obama administration. It was also considered a key leader in crafting the agreement and getting others to sign on. But President Donald Trump has long been critical of the Paris Agreement, arguing that it hurts U.S. competitiveness and the economy.

In June 2017, Trump officially announced that he was going to take the U.S. out of the agreement. However, the U.S. did not immediately leave the accord following that announcement.

That was because all signatories had agreed to rules set by the UN that said no country could leave for three years after signing. If a signatory country did decide to leave the agreement, they would then be subject to a one-year waiting period before the withdrawal took effect.

The Paris Agreement officially went into force on Nov. 4, 2016, and so on November 4, 2019— exactly three years to the day after the agreement was finalized— the Trump administration began to formally pull the U.S. out of the deal.

The move was announced by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Twitter.

“Today we begin the formal process of withdrawing from the Paris Agreement,” Pompeo wrote. “The U.S. is proud of our record as a world leader in reducing all emissions, fostering resilience, growing our economy, and ensuring energy for our citizens. Ours is a realistic and pragmatic model.”

Now the U.S. has one year before it is fully out of the climate agreement, which somewhat coincidentally puts the day that the U.S. would entirely be withdrawn from the agreement one day after the 2020 election.

Most of the Democratic presidential candidates have said if elected they would reenter the deal, but even if Trump were to lose to the election, he would still not leave office until January 2021. 

Unless Trump has a sudden change of heart, it seems like the U.S. is set to leave the Paris Agreement on climate change, making it the first and only country to do so.

With the U.S. officially taking the leap to leave the Paris Agreement, many are wondering what this means moving forward for both the accord and the climate crisis as a whole.

General Impact on Climate Change 

The most top-level implication of the U.S. withdrawing from the agreement is the potential impact on climate change and global climate change policies.

One of the main overarching goals of the Paris agreement was to keep global warming “well below” a rise of two degrees Celsius, with the general aim of not letting it go above 1.5 degrees Celsius if possible.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) backed by an overwhelming scientific consensus has said that in order to reach that ambitious goal, we as a global community need to slash carbon emissions in half by 2030, and net-zero in 2050.

If we fail to do so, scientists and experts have warned that we could face irreversible impacts of climate change. So when signing the Paris Agreement, each country set its own goals to reduce emissions.

Many wealthier and more developed countries, which at the time included the U.S., also agreed to help poorer and developing countries cope with the effects of climate change.

Critics of Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the agreement have said that this is a massive step backward in the fight against climate change, especially because the U.S. is the second-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world after China.

Effectiveness of Deal Without U.S.

Which brings us to the second implication: the impact of the U.S. withdrawing from the Paris Agreement on the effectiveness of the deal itself.

As noted before, the U.S. led by the Obama administration was central in crafting this deal in the first place. Now, the other signatory countries have to make the agreement work without the U.S.

Specifically, that means other major polluters like China and India have to step up and fill the vacuum left by the U.S. In 2017, the U.S., China, and India accounted for almost 50% of total global emissions.

As the number one polluter, China has made big promises to cut their emissions, but they have done little to deliver on those promises.

India, which has many of the most polluted cities in the world, is currently dealing with a massive, growing pollution crisis, which indicates it also has a long way to go.

However, the biggest difference between the U.S. and the other two nations is that under UN rules, China and India are still considered developing countries, and thus are not obligated to curb emissions.

In fact, under the Paris Agreement, China actually said it would peak emissions in 2030, while the U.S. had said it would cut them drastically.

But as many have pointed out, both India and China still agreed to cut emissions as part of the deal largely because of the actions the U.S. was taking and the commitments it had made.

With the U.S. no longer in the agreement, some have argued that China and India will now be even less likely to reduce their emissions.

Here’s the thing with the Paris Agreement: none of the commitments countries make are binding.

In this way, the accord is a double-edged sword. It is beneficial because it got countries that would otherwise not agree to be held to legally-binding commitments to sign on, but it also means none of the countries are held to their commitments.

So if a big power-player and climate change leader like the U.S. reneges on its commitments, it could signal to other countries that they can do the same.

Economic Impact

Another major effect of the U.S. pulling out of the deal is the economic impact.

In addition to the scientific warnings about rising sea levels, extreme weather, and the disastrous effects climate change will have on agriculture and wildlife, many have also said that withdrawing from the agreement is a bad economic decision.

This is largely because the Trump administration has not wanted to invest in clean energy and renewable technologies that are becoming a huge market.

As Andrew Steer, the president of the World Resources Institute, said in a statement, Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement “fails people in the United States, who will lose out on clean energy jobs, as other nations grab the competitive and technological advantages that the low-carbon future offers.”

However, long before Monday’s announcement, Trump and his administration have acted like the U.S.’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement is a foregone conclusion.

The administration has pushed ahead with plans and actions that entirely go against the country’s pledge under the agreement to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by nearly a quarter of 2005 levels by 2025.

Among other things, the Trump administration has continually rolled back Obama-era environmental rules that attempted to reduce carbon emissions, such as regulations on coal-fired power plants and other regulations aimed at increasing fuel efficiency standards.

Already, this has made an impact on the U.S.’s carbon output.

In 2018, U.S. carbon emissions increased significantly. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Andrew Wheeler specifically said that the rise was caused by “an uptick in manufacturing and industrial output.”

Trump for his part has made it abundantly clear that he views increasing fossil fuel and coal production as a more important priority than addressing climate change, even if those plans go against the findings of the administration’s own scientists.

Trump’s argument here is that fossil fuel and coal production are better for the U.S. economy, and that is more important than addressing the impending climate crisis.

“I feel that the United States has tremendous wealth. The wealth is under its feet. I’ve made that wealth come alive,” the president said speaking in France this summer. “I’m not going to lose that wealth — I’m not going to lose it on dreams, on windmills.”

But many economists and other experts have said that putting resources toward the clean and renewable energy sector would actually be a huge investment in the future of the economy.

As David Roberts of Vox explains: “Many climate policies pay off in the near term in jobs, economic growth, or reductions in local air and water pollutants, even putting aside their climate-specific benefits. In short, many carbon-reducing policies are things it makes sense for countries to do anyway, for reasons beyond saving the world from climate change.”

Counter-Efforts in the U.S.

Even if the U.S. federal government fully withdraws from the deal, there are still efforts to keep the goals the U.S. originally committed to in the Paris Agreement intact. 

As the Los Angeles Times reported, over 400 city leaders have joined the Climate Mayors association while 17 states and territories have joined the U.S. Climate Allianceboth of which are organizations that have promised to continue working towards the U.S.’s climate pledge under the Paris Agreement.

Additionally, 2,200 businesses and investors, 350 universities, 200 faith groups, and many more local and tribal governments have also signed onto the “We’re Still In” declaration, which also supports the goals of the accord.

According to the Times, all combined, these groups “account for nearly 60% of the U.S. economy, half the country’s population, and 37% of its greenhouse gas emissions.”

Others have also noted that there is significant public support to address climate change.

According to a poll conducted by The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation in September, two-thirds of Americans say Trump is not doing enough to deal with climate change

The poll also found that about eight in 10 Americans “say that human activity is fueling climate change, and roughly half believe action is urgently needed within the next decade if humanity is to avert its worst effects.”

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (Forbes) (Mother Jones)

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Catholic School Expels Students After Discovering Mother’s OnlyFans Account

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  • Crystal Jackson, a California mother of three, said her boys were expelled from their Catholic school after other parents notified administrators of her OnlyFans account.
  • Jackson, who started the account to boost her confidence and rekindle her relationship with her husband, says she only posts pinup-style photos in lingerie, not pornography.
  • Now, she’s speaking out against the intense harassment she’s faced from parents in her community and has criticized the school’s decision to punish her children.
  • She also says the school is working to update their handbook to include a rule that says: “Any parent who is involved in a site or blog that goes against teachings of the church and school philosophy must be removed.”

Mother’s OnlyFans Account Draws Criticism

A mother in Sacramento, California says her three boys were expelled from their Catholic school after administrators discovered her OnlyFans account.

That mother is Crystal Jackson, who joined the site in 2019 to spice up her struggling relationship with her husband of 14 years, Chris.

Jackson says she does not post pornography on her account. Instead, she posts pinup-style photos in lingerie and includes “sexy stories” that play up the image of what she and Chris call “the mom next door.”

The account started as a secret between the two of them, but it has since become a huge success, bringing in over $150,000 a month along with hundreds of thousands of social media followers. 

While the new venture has also brought her a boost of joy and self-confidence, her growing popularity on the platform eventually caught the attention of parents at Sacred Heart Parish School.

According to several interviews Crystal has given to media outlets, parents were relentlessly urging that her sons be kicked out of school.

They began harassing her with texts and voicemails bullying her and insulting her family. At one point, she says a group of mothers even printed out her OnlyFans photos and sent them anonymously in a packet to the school principal.

Some also reported her to their local priest and bishop and created a Facebook group to gossip about her family. 

School Expels Mother’s Three Sons

She was eventually removed as 2nd-grade ‘room mother’ due to the complaints. After growing tired of the treatment, she eventually gave an interview to The Sun about all the harassment.

But the issue escalated Sunday when the school sent her a letter notifying her of its decision.

“Your apparent quest for high-profile controversy in support of your adult website is in direct conflict with what we hope to impart to our students and is directly opposed to the policies laid out in our Parent/Student Handbook,” it read.

“We therefore require that you find another school for your children and have no further association with ours.”

Now, she says the school is working to update their handbook to include a rule that says: “Any parent who is involved in a site or blog that goes against teachings of the church and school philosophy must be removed.”

Crystal has continued to speak out against the school’s decision, telling People Magazine that her 8, 10, and 12 years old are good kids who are only being hurt by the school’s actions. 

“Take me down, that’s fine, but leave my kids out of this,” she said.

“I didn’t want to be put out there, but at some point, I have to stand up and say I can’t take it anymore because this behavior is horrible,” she added.

Crystal noted that she was hoping to put her kids back in Catholic school but says she and her husband will likely have to put them in public school.

“They won’t allow them in this diocese, and is this really the place for them to be?” she said. “It’s clear that they said we don’t want you.”

“In the year 2021, here we are, trying to bring a woman down for her choices and what she does with her husband,” Crystal added. “It’s body shaming and bullying all encompassed into one and it’s such a double standard and disturbing.”

For now, she’s just hoping the judgment and harassment in her community will stop. “I’m still the same Crystal I was, like, two years ago, a year ago, when we had coffee, before you knew this.

See what others are saying: (People) (NBC News) (The Sun)

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Nearly 9 Million Are Without Water in Texas, Some Face Electric Bills up To $17,000

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  • More than 8.8 million people in Texas remained under boil water notices Monday, and over 120,000 had no water service at all. 
  • Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said Sunday that the state has distributed around 3.5 million bottles of water, though many of the lines to receive that water were plagued with hours-long waits.
  • Meanwhile, power outages in the state have fallen below 20,000, but many Texans are also beginning to receive astronomical electric bills of as much as $17,000.
  • Both Abbott and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner (D) said those prices are not the fault of customers. While some form of forgiveness is likely, no immediate plan has been outlined yet. 

Millions Without Water

As of Monday morning, nearly 8.8 million people in Texas are still under boil water notices following last week’s snowstorm. That’s about one out of every three Texans.

Despite being a giant chunk of the state’s population, that figure is actually an improvement from 10 million people on Sunday. 

Another 120,000 Texans are still without water service at all.

Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said Sunday almost 3.5 million bottles of water have been distributed across Texas by helicopter, airplane, and truck.

The need for water has been extremely visible. An Austin City Council member shared a video on Twitter Sunday showing a massive line of vehicles waiting for clean water. Some waited for more than an hour before the distribution event began. At another site, she said cars began lining up more than five hours before the event. 

Abbott said the state is bringing in more plumbers to increase repair efforts for damaged water systems. Additionally, Abbott said homeowners without insurance could qualify for emergency reimbursement from FEMA.

Meanwhile, one large-scale effort from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY.) has now raised more than $5 million since first being launched on Thursday. That money will go to several organizations, including the Houston Food Bank, Family Eldercare, Feeding Texas, and the Bridge Homeless Recovery Center.

Texas Electric Bills Soar as High as $17K

All but just under 20,000 Texas homes and businesses have now had their power restored as of Monday morning.

That’s a stark contrast from the more than 4 million that were out of power at one point last week. 

While that’s largely good news, many Texans are now beginning to receive sky-high electric bills. That’s especially evident for those whose power stayed on during the storm. In fact, some people have now told multiple media outlets they’re facing bills as high as $17,000.

One 63-year-old Army vet, who was charged $16,752, told The New York Times that his bill was about 70 times higher than normal.

“My savings is gone,” he said. “There’s nothing I can do about it, but it’s broken me.”

As far as why his and others’ eclectic bills are so high, many people in Texas have plans that are directly tied to the wholesale price of electricity. Usually, that helps keep their costs low, but as demand for power surged during last week’s snowstorm, those prices hit astronomical highs. 

In a statement on Saturday, Abbott said Texas lawmakers “have a responsibility to protect Texans from spikes in their energy bills that are a result of the severe winter weather and power outages,” 

He added that the state Legislature is working “on solutions to help Texas families and ensure they do not get stuck with skyrocketing energy bills.”

In a similar tone, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner (D) said in an interview with CBS on Sunday, “It’s not the consumers who should assume [these] costs. They are not at fault for what happened this week.”

That said, Turner also laid blame at the feet of the Legislature, calling the current crisis “foreseeable” on the part of lawmakers because a similar snowstorm and outages struck Texas in 2011.

Turner added that, at the time, he was part of the Texas legislature and had filed a bill that would have required the agency overseeing Texas’ grid to “ensure that there was an adequate reserve to prevent blackouts.”

“The leadership in Austin did not give it a hearing,” he said. 

While no aid has been fully guaranteed yet, Texas has prevented electric companies from being able to shut off power for people who don’t pay their bills on time. 

See what others are saying: (NBC News) (The New York Times) (CNN)

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Texans Still Face Broken Pipes, Flooding, and Carbon Monoxide Poisoning as Million Regain Power

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  • The number of Texans without power fell from 3.3 million on Wednesday to below 500,000 by Thursday.
  • Still, millions are currently under a boil advisory, pipes have burst as they begin to thaw, and some individuals have died or been hospitalized because of carbon monoxide poisoning. 
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency said Wednesday that it has sent generators, water, and blankets to Texas, adding that it’s working to send additional diesel for generators.
  • Gov. Greg Abbott and President Joe Biden have also reportedly discussed the possibility of extra funding for people’s electricity bills, as well as for burst pipes.

Power May Be Back but Problems Persist

Power outages in Texas Thursday morning fell to under 500,000 — down from 3.3 million Wednesday morning. 

According to the state’s main grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the remaining outages are largely weather-related and not connected to problems related to forced outages. 

While that return of power to millions is significant, Texans are still facing a host of other problems.

For example, there have been numerous reports of carbon monoxide poisoning as people still without power try to keep warm in their cars or through other means. An adult and a child were found dead Tuesday after running their car inside of a garage, prompting Houston police to issue a statement warning that “cars, grills and generators should not be used in or near a building.”

Six children and four adults were rushed to the hospital Wednesday night for carbon monoxide poisoning after setting up grills inside their homes. 

Even for those now with power, water has become a major issue. On Wednesday, 7 million Texans were placed on a boil advisory and about 263,000 were without functioning water providers. 

One reporter tweeted out a video of people lining up at a park to fill up buckets of water.

“This is not a third world country,” she said. “This is Houston, Texas.”

The Food and Drug Administration and the National Weather Service have even cited melting and boiling snow as an emergency option if people can’t find water elsewhere, an option many have already turned to. 

For some, all these problems only seemed to compound in the form of burst pipes. One viral video shows water gushing out of a third-story apartment. Others posted images of their broken pipes and the damage they have caused. 

As a result, a number of local media outlets have begun to outline steps people can take once their pipes start to thaw or if they break. 

Amid Problems, Aid is Being Distributed

Alongside the overwhelming amount of problems, there has also been a large aid response.

A FEMA spokesperson said Wednesday that the agency has sent 60 “very large” generators to help keep hospitals and other critical infrastructure open. 

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki added that FEMA is preparing to move diesel into Texas to keep that backup power going.

So far, FEMA said it has sent “millions of liters of water” and “tens of thousands” of blankets.

Governor Greg Abbott and President Joe Biden have also reportedly discussed the possibility of extra funding for people’s electricity bills, as well as for burst pipes. That’s because as the storm first hit, electrical demand surged. Since many Texans have plans connected to the wholesale price of electricity, they’re potentially set to be hit with sky-high bills.

Among other issues plaguing Texans is food spoilage; however, that can potentially be reimbursed through renters’ and homeowners’ insurance.

According to an official from the Insurance Council of Texas, “Food coverage is often related to personal property.”

Notably, there are some stipulations depending on individual circumstances and policy. To learn more about how insurance providers accept food spoilage claims, click here.

See what others are saying: (KTRK) (The New York Times) (Houston Chronicle)

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