ANOTHER day in the mad world of Trump politics and we have one giant ‘f**k you’ to the world and future generations.
Securely cementing his position as the sensible-person’s-adversary, Donald Trump has taken another step towards withdrawing the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement.
Needless to say, this did not go down well with the public, business moguls and world leaders alike, with many coming out to condemn the move.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel called Trump immediately following his announcement in the White House Rose Garden to personally express her regret at his decision, her spokesman Steffen Seibert said on Twitter.
Chancellor Merkel disappointed w/ Pres. Trump’s decision. Now more than ever we will work for global climate policies that save our planet.
— Steffen Seibert (@RegSprecher) June 1, 2017
Newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron claimed Trump had “committed an error for the interests of his country, his people and a mistake for the future of our planet.”
Koichi Yamamoto, Japan’s environment minister said he was “deeply disappointed by president Trump’s decision to turn his back on the hard-won wisdom of humanity.”
The decision even prompted former-president Barack Obama to put down his mai tai and issue a response, calling the administration’s move an attempt to “reject the future.”
Statement from Barack Obama on the Paris Climate Agreement pic.twitter.com/SQc6kQV0Ah
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) June 1, 2017
The withdrawal of the world’s largest historical polluter, and the world’s biggest economy, is undoubtedly a massive blow to the climate effort and is rightly viewed with disappointment and pessimism by the parts of world that will be affected as they wake up to the news this morning.
Some experts fear America’s refusal to take responsibility for its undeniable role in climate change will lead to other smaller developing nations losing their resolve when it comes to sticking to targets, and we could be faced with a mass exodus from the long-sought agreement.
But it is for this very reason that Trump’s withdrawal could, in fact, turn out to be a good thing.
The president has made no secret of the fact he does not take climate change seriously, in the past calling it a “hoax” and a “scam”.
Ice storm rolls from Texas to Tennessee – I'm in Los Angeles and it's freezing. Global warming is a total, and very expensive, hoax!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 6, 2013
They changed the name from “global warming” to “climate change” after the term global warming just wasn’t working (it was too cold)!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 25, 2013
The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 6, 2012
His actions since becoming president have reflected this level of disregard, with some questionable at best and catastrophic at worst, decisions coming from the White House.
Among these are the appointment of Scott Pruitt, a notorious climate denier with strong ties to the fossil fuel industry, as head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); the active attempt to dismantle the Obama-era Clean Power Plan; proposed budget cuts of almost a third to the EPA, resulting in a number of climate programs heading for the scrap heap; opening up of federal lands and waters for drilling; and the approval of the controversial Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines.
The Paris accord is a non-binding agreement, with countries developing their own climate policies to suit their domestic situations, then coming together as a collective to review progress and seek improvements or increased commitment where needed.
No penalties are placed on those nations that do not hit targets. The agreement was built on the premise that peer pressure, diplomacy and genuine commitment would motivate nations to strive for targets and strengthen the policies as time went on.
Given Trump’s dogged determination to dismantle environmental policy at home, it seems fair to assume this approach would have continued had the States remained a key player in the agreement.
While there is a risk that yesterday’s development will weaken the resolve of some nations, it seems more dangerous to allow him to bring his anti-climate rhetoric into the fold of the Paris deal and undermine progress from within.
If the second biggest current polluter in the world is seen to be wilfully missing targets and failing in their commitments, it provides a political cover for other nations looking for excuses, while weakening the position and influence of those seeking to assert the pressure.
The constant chipping away at the foundations of solidarity and good intentions of the agreement could be far more detrimental than simply removing themselves from the get-go.
Far from weaken the world’s resolve, Trump’s announcement appears to have galvanised nations with many reasserting their unwavering commitment to the agreement.
I’m not being naïve, the road ahead to control carbon emissions will be substantially harder without US cooperation, not to mention the reduction of funding to the UN Green Climate Fund, to which the US was a major contributor.
But as Trump has displayed, not just reluctance, but a vehement contempt for effective climate policy, perhaps it is better he’s out of the conversation and watching from the sidelines rather than systematically undermining progress from within.
** This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of Asian Correspondent