Green Party co-leader James Shaw thinks the Trump presidency is just a temporary 'blip'. While the eco-socialist movement says that there is still a world to win, former Coca Cola and BP consultant James Shaw thinks we should just "stay calm and carry on".
SO DONALD TRUMP has done what he threatened to do during his presidential campaign and pulled the United States out from the Paris Climate Agreement, signed by nearly two hundred countries.
Equally as expected, the response around the world has been overwhelmingly negative and angrily so. Which can't be said for the curious response of Green Party co-leader James Shaw.
In an interview with local Christchurch Newstalk ZB morning host Chris Lynch, Shaw seemed positively philosophical about Trump's efforts to destroy the planet. While he did express his disquiet about the American withdrawal from the Paris agreement, he didn't sound unduly troubled.
Apparently Shaw owes his equanimity to the fact he sees the broader picture. He told Chris Lynch that the Trump presidency was but a temporary 'blip' and would be over before we knew it. By that I assumed Shaw thought Trump would be defeated in 2020, although Chris Lynch did ask him if he thought he might be removed before them. Shaw said he didn't want to speculate about that.
James Shaw seems to think we should endure Trump like an annoying skin irritant and then things will methodically return to normalcy. His rallying cry is that "we should stay calm and carry on". And, yes, he really did say that.
Because Shaw is assuming Trump won't be around for long it seems he's not going to pay much attention to the damage Trump will do while he's occupying the White House. Already, among several other disastrous measures, he has appointed a climate change denier ,Scott Pruitt, to head the Environmental Protection Agency and reversed Obama legislation designed to protect waterways from the impact of coal mining.
But, more worryingly still, Shaw seems to think that we should welcome a return to the supposed status quo under the Paris Climate agreement, once Trump is off the scene. This, for Shaw, is the 'end goal'. Shaw's limited vision isn't entirely surprising since in 2015 he described the signing of the Paris agreement as "an incredible achievement".
Shaw claimed success because the agreement "committed' the signatories "to bring their domestic policies in line with a goal of limiting global warming to 1.5C." Which is entirely untrue. Activist and author Naomi Klein, among others, has estimated that the Paris agreement will consign the world to an increase in global warning of 3-4 celsius - which would be disastrous for the planet. Scientists believe this will most likely trigger unmanageable consequences such as a very significant increase in sea level.
While Shaw celebrated the signing of the agreement in Paris with fellow Green MP Julie Ann Genter, Naomi Klein was telling the media that the agreement was "like someone agreeing to cut down from five burgers a day to four." It was, she said, "scientifically catastrophic".
The former Bolivian ambassador and climate change negotiator Pablo Solón summed up the agreement this way : "The Paris Agreement repeats old mistakes and will fail. The answer lies in a self-organized, self-conscious and empowered humanity that believes in itself and nature more than in technology and market forces."
And this is the crux of the matter. Shaw's failure not only to see the Trump presidency as the existential threat that it poses, as well as his failure to acknowledge the growing environmental crisis, stems from his damaging and mistaken belief that the very economic system that is chewing up the planet can actually be employed to save it. His fantasy about a 'green capitalism' means he will not accept that the fight for economic justice and the fight for environmental justice are one in the same. Instead he continues to claim that "environmental issues and sound business are not necessarily opposed."