Having made good on his promise to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, President Trump is once again the focus of a hailstorm of criticism.
“We’re getting out,” he told the assembled crowd. “We will see if we can make a deal that’s fair. If we can, that’s great. If we can’t – that’s fine. As President, I can put no other consideration ahead of the wellbeing of American citizens.”
“The Paris climate accord is simply the latest example of Washington entering into an agreement that disadvantages the United States to the exclusive benefit of other countries, leaving American workers – who I love – and taxpayers to absorb the cost, in terms of lost jobs, lower wages, shuttered factories, and vastly diminished economic production,” continued President Trump.
“It would once have been unthinkable that an international agreement could stop the US conducting its own domestic affairs,” he said in a public address at 3 pm this afternoon Eastern Time today. “At what point do they start laughing at us as a country?”
“The Paris agreement handicaps the United States Economy,” he said, later adding: “The Paris Framework is just a starting point, as bad as it is, not an end point.”
The International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) President, Antonis Mavropoulos, immediately warned that by ditching the hard won agreement involving 197 countries, Trump is divorcing US climate policy from science. In a statement to WMW he said:
“Trump’s move demonstrates how vulnerable and political fragile is a landmark agreement that took many years to be developed.
“It highlights that the available tools and mechanisms for a global response to planetary challenges are simply not suitable to manage the challenges ahead. It is also a clear sign of the divorce between US climate policy and science.
“The message for all of us is clear: we need to work 10 times harder to ensure that Paris Agreement, as a minimum measure to avoid the planet’s catastrophe, will stay on track.
“I am pretty sure than many US States and the majority of US citizens will follow this path too. ISWA will take part actively in each and every effort that contributes to keep the Paris Agreement alive and active - we will always have Paris, with or without Trump".
According to Anthony Hobley, CEO of the Carbon Tracker Initiative, the move is an economic and leadership failure of monumental proportions.
“The rest of the world and key parts of the US economy, such as California, will get on with implementation regardless,” he said.
“Our financial analysis shows beyond doubt that the low carbon transition underway is driven by unstoppable technological change and innovation. New energy generation from renewables has overtaken new generation from coal. In the United States alone solar jobs grew 25% last year, more than in the oil, gas and coal sectors.
In a letter to Trump arguing against the move, Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) highlighted a similar point:
"Withdrawing from the agreement or failing to meet our commitments would undermine the United States’ credibility and position as a global leader, empowering sometimes adversarial nations like China to not only drive the agenda and set international standards but also reap the economic benefits of a growing clean energy sector.”
Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA) also issued a statement on the issue: “Withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement would put the future of our country and our world at risk. The science is clear. If we don’t act on climate in this pivotal moment, future generations will be the ones who pay the price.
“Yet, at a time when the world is looking to our country for leadership, the President seems intent on stepping back. We must keep fighting to reduce carbon emissions and preserve the health, economic, and environmental security of our communities.”
State Level Action
Regardless of Trump’s actions at a national and international level, a number of US States themselves are stepping up to their responsibilities.
Though not surprised, he said that he was disappointed by the intent to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, and labelled it “misguided, ill-informed, and backward-looking”.
In a statement, he said: “We should not be making America dirtier again. Abandoning the Agreement would also result in the United States ceding its leadership in addressing carbon and methane pollution at a time when we cannot afford inaction. Now more than ever we need states like California as well as our allies overseas to fill Trump’s void and continue fighting for a greener planet…. P.S. Coal is not coming back."
State level action was something proposed by Sierra Club Illinois Director, Jack Darin:
"Donald Trump may be doing everything in his power to take America backward on clean energy and climate action, but that doesn't mean Illinois has to follow him.
“Climate change is a grave threat to Illinois' health, communities, and agriculture. Dozens of Illinois mayors and communities have already made commitments to reduce carbon emissions, and Illinois should do the same.
“A state plan to reduce carbon pollution would help Illinois benefit from the global clean energy economy, despite Trump's steps backward, and build on the good jobs in clean energy that are on the way for our workers and communities under the Future Energy Jobs Act."
New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman called Trump’s decision the latest example of his administration's dangerous attack on urgent and common sense efforts to kerb the devastating impacts of climate change.
“Climate change is causing real harm to communities around New York and across the country. Yet time and again, President Trump has proven he's more interested in protecting polluters than people.
“I have not – and will not – hesitate to hold President Trump accountable for any climate policies that threaten New Yorkers. Efforts by Attorneys General and concerned citizens across the country are already forcing the Trump administration to retreat from some of its dangerous anti-climate policies.
Schneiderman noted that Just last week, the Trump administration reversed course on energy efficiency standards after we sued.
“From defending the Clean Power Plan, to fighting President Trump's efforts to gut the Clean Water Rule, our work to preserve and protect public health and the environment will continue,” he said “I will use the full power of my office to protect New Yorkers and our planet – and to fight the Trump Administration's harmful and retrograde actions.”
Both US and foreign politicians have been quick to express bewilderment, alarm, disappointment, and a determination to go on without the US.
Following discussions regarding the Paris Agreement at the recent G7 conference, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said talks with Trump has been “very difficult, if not to say, very unsatisfactory.” She concluded that if the US would no longer work with its allies then Europe needed to unify and take care of itself.
Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni echoed this thought: “This takes nothing away from the importance of our trans-Atlantic ties and our alliance with the United States, but the importance we put on these ties cannot mean that we abandon fundamental principles such as our commitment to fight climate change and in favour of open societies and free trade,” he told the media.
In a 1 June article by the Guardian, Richard Black, director of the UK’s Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, was reported to have said: “A pullout would widen the diplomatic rift with Europe that emerged at the G7 summit and could even lead to trade barriers being erected against US exports.”
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