If Trump Dumps Paris, Says Naomi Klein: "Time for Some People's Sanctions"

Whether President Donald Trump keeps the United States in the Paris climate agreement or not—and with an official announcement expected as early as Thursday—author and climate activist Naomi Klein is among those saying it is time to recognize the world’s largest historical producer of greenhouse emissions as a global pariah and argues that hitting the U.S. where it hurts, in the pocketbook, could be the best way to end the nation’s destructive foot-dragging.

“If Trump does indeed pull the U.S. out of Paris,” wrote Klein in a new op-ed at the New York Daily News, “Americans should prepare themselves for the possibility that other countries will impose trade and economic sanctions on the United States.”

“Moral suasion doesn’t work on Trump. Economic pressure just might.” 
—author Naomi KleinThe idea of imposing state-backed financial penalties or what Klein calls “people’s sanctions,” the award-winning journalist says both are gaining global popularity not only because of the “existential threat” posed by a rapidly warming planet, but especially because Trump has been so quick to “threaten economic retaliation against anyone who doesn’t follow his America-first dictates.” Klein acknowledges that it might be “difficult for any country to accept the idea that it might deserve (or even benefit from) outside economic sanctions,” but says there is ample precedent for doing so.

For example, Klein recounts how the U.S., at different points in history, imposed sanctions on countries like South Africa and Iran, and did so “when it felt the moral case was clear and the stakes were high.” It has now become impossible, she writes, to argue that “a rogue action like Trump’s, does not far surpass that bar.” In a separate piece at The Intercept on Thursday, Klein went further:

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And Klein is certainly not alone in her assessment that if Trump does withdraw from the Paris deal, he will forever be seen as the person who dragged progress back at the exact moment when history—and science—was demanding a giant leap forward.

As Common Dreams noted in reporting on Wednesday, the chorus of outrage directed at Trump over a possible withdrawal is practically deafening, with climate campaigners calling it “nothing short of treason” and a “crime against the future of people and the planet.”

But Kelle Louaillier, president of Corporate Accountability International, said that while a pullout would have certainly have severe negative implications, the refusal of Trump and his Republican allies to acknowledge the scale of the crisis—and their continued allegiance to the “climate denialism” propagated by the big oil and gas companies—is the real and ultimate source of harm.

“Whether it stays or goes, the Trump administration, led by oil industry executives and fossil fuel apologists,” said Louaillier, “will undoubtedly spend the next four years advancing the oily agenda of the fossil fuel industry—all while blocking global progress and trying to starve the U.N. of the resources it needs to operate.”