Bangkok, Thailand (The Nation/ANN) - But sadly the US president’s move to quit the Paris climate accord could affect every one of us.
Ending weeks of speculation, President Donald Trump announced on Thursday that the US would be withdrawing from the Paris agreement on climate change, effectively distancing his country from the rest of the world that worked so hard to achieve this landmark agreement two years ago.
“As of today, the United States will cease all implementation of the non-binding Paris accord.”
No one believes Trump would be a great, not even good, president. But this reality-TV personality, real estate tycoon turned politician will go down in history as America’s worst president. And he has not even been in the presidential seat for six months and has already pitted America against the world in so many ways. God knows where America will be three and half years from now when he will go up for re-election.
A halfway decent leader of any country would have a sense of moral responsibility to the international community and nations around the globe. Apparently, that was too much to ask from this con artist.
Trump said his decision was based on “a reassertion of America’s sovereignty,” adding that he was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris. But we all know that the way he framed this was misleading. Sadly, his supporters refused to see it that way. It’s shortsighted, plain and simple.
The Paris agreement was achieved during the presidency of Barack Obama. Under the agreement, the world’s first of its kind, the US agreed to work towards reducing polluting emissions by about 1.6 billion tonnes by 2025. The target was voluntary, which meant the US and nearly 200 other nations could alter their commitments.
In spite of the flexibility in the accord, Trump didn’t want any obstacles whatsoever for his friends and associates in the energy business, thus the decision to withdraw from this very important accord aimed at saving planet earth from further degradation by slowing the tide of global warming.
Trump did say he would be willing to renegotiate a new deal but added that he is not in a hurry to do so. “If we can, great. If we can’t, that’s fine,” he said.
Trump’s decision drew a great deal of condemnation from environmentalists in America and all around the world, including China, the world second largest of emitter of carbon – second to the US.
Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime minister Paolo Gentiloni responded with a joint statement, saying: “We deem the momentum generated in Paris in December 2015 irreversible and we firmly believe that the Paris Agreement cannot be renegotiated, since it is a vital instrument for our planet, societies and economies.”
We can’t say we didn’t see this coming. Trump campaigned on this promise, accusing China of cocking up a global warming conspiracy to hurt American workers. He started off his administration by going after government environmental scientists, depleting resources in key environment agencies.
But politicians say these things to get elected and many of us were crossing our fingers that this campaign promise would blow over and sense and sensibility would return.
According to some estimates, the US withdrawal could result in emissions of up to 3 billion tonnes of extra carbon dioxide in the air a year. From now on, fingers all around the world will point to the Trump administration if ice sheets melt faster, sea level rises higher and the global temperature becomes hotter.
“It’s a sad day for the global community,” said Miguel Arias Canete, climate action commissioner for the European Union.
American mayors and governors across the US vowed not to take this withdrawal sitting down. They swore to continue to do whatever they can in their power to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
China moved quickly in joining with the European Union and other nations to reaffirm its commitment to meeting its targets under the Paris accord. To show that it meant business, Beijing called off the construction of about 100 coal-fired power plants and diverted their investments, in the billions of dollars, to clean energy.
French President Emmanuel Macron said: “To all scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, responsible citizens who were disappointed by the decision of the United States, I want to say that they will find in France a second homeland. I call on them: Come and work here with us – to work together on concrete solutions for our climate, our environment. I can assure you, France will not give up the fight.”
We don’t have to wait generations from now to look back at this Thursday announcement to come to the realisation that Trump’s decision to leave the Paris Agreement was dangerous and ignorant. Sadly, the impact of his move will not affect just the American people; it affects us all.