19 May 2017 | Next Friday, US President Donald Trump will be parachuted into the deep end of a swamp that shouldn’t exist, and one he won’t even know he’s in – let alone how to drain it, or whether he should.
Specifically, he’ll land in the Sicilian village of Taormina for the 43rd Meeting of the Group of Seven Industrialized Nations (G-7), and he’ll be handed an agenda that focuses on “energy and climate change…the Paris Agreement, the role of green finance, energy security, gas markets and renewables.”
The swamp is the unnecessary confusion he’s creating at a time when the world is uniting to meet the climate challenge, because the G-7 meeting isn’t an isolated event. It’s a culmination of three weeks of mid-year meetings designed to turbocharge the Paris Climate Agreement – meetings that began with formal negotiations in Bonn, Germany and continue this week at the World Bank’s Innovate4Climate Summit in Barcelona, which is part of the Bank’s effort to “activate trillionaire investments” in climate-safe technology. To do that, the bank is bringing together entrepreneurs, financiers, and regulators together for two days of workshops and two days of presentations focused on renewable energy, green jobs, and de-risking supply chains, with an overlapping three-day “marketplace” to help green entrepreneurs find finance.
On Tuesday, Ecosystem Marketplace releases its 11th annual “State of Voluntary Carbon Markets” report, which analyzes the ways companies and individuals offset their greenhouse gasses by saving forests, planting trees, and turning cow dung into electricity, among other things.
The 11th edition of that report is entitled, appropriately enough, “Unlocking Potential”, but while the world is unlocking the potential to make money by fixing the climate mess, Donald Trump seems intent on pulling his country backwards – which makes the location of this year’s G-7 meeting all the more interesting.
In ancient days, a benevolent Greek warrior named Timoleon passed through the same Sicilian village of Taormina (then called Tauromenium) on his way to depose the bumbling and cruel Dionysius, king of Syracuse.
King Dionysius was famous for his ineptitude and his paranoia, which is immortalized in “The Sword of Damocles”. In that story, Dionysius let a pandering apprentice occupy his throne so the young man could experience the thrill of power. But to teach his apprentice a lesson, Dionysius hung a sword over the throne by a single horse’s hair so that the apprentice, named Damocles, will learn how stressful it is to be the boss.
Trump, like Dionysius, has plenty of reason to be paranoid – not least because of his refusal to address what is arguably the greatest threat that civilization has ever faced. Other world leaders have, like Timoleon, vowed to meet the challenge head-on – and Trump may find it makes good business sense to embrace that challenge when he lands in Sicily.
Otherwise, his insecurities could prove prescient.