Wed, Jun 07, 2017 - Page 9 News List

Trump’s mistake a hindrance, but not the end of climate fight

By Laurence Tubiana

US President Donald Trump has announced that the US will no longer participate in the 2015 Paris climate agreement, the landmark UN treaty that many of us worked so hard to achieve. Trump is making a mistake that will have grave repercussions for his own country, and for the world.

Trump claims that he will try to renegotiate the deal reached in Paris, or craft a new one. However, leaders from around the world have already hailed the agreement as a breakthrough for the fight against climate change, a victory for international cooperation and a boon to the global economy. That remains true today.

Among the many challenges we face today, climate change is unique in its global scale. It affects every element of life on this planet — from ecosystems and food production to cities and industrial supply chains.

Viewing climate change as strictly an “environmental” problem misses the point entirely.

We might charitably assume that Trump simply does not understand the implications of his decision. Yet, regardless of what Trump thinks, we know that he is surrounded by advisers who know very well what is at stake.

On the campaign trail, Trump promised to create jobs and protect US workers from the ravages of the world. He signed off his tweet announcing that he had made a decision on the Paris accord with: “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

However, Trump’s decision undermines every one of these goals, and it goes against the wishes of a vast majority of Americans, including many of his own supporters.

By turning his back on the Paris agreement, he is increasing Americans’ exposure to the devastating effects of climate change — many of which they are already experiencing. Moreover, he is undercutting jobs in the thriving renewable energy and electric vehicle sectors, which are increasingly employing the very workers he purports to represent.

More broadly, Trump has diminished the US itself and abdicated its global leadership role. When I was a member of the French government participating in a global tour to build consensus for climate action — an effort that eventually culminated in the Paris agreement — I experienced firsthand what US leadership can achieve. It is tragic to watch that force for good be subverted by denial and myopia.

By burying their heads in the sand, Trump and his advisers must be hoping that reality will simply go away. They have somehow concluded that the US will be spared from the droughts already destroying farms in California’s Central Valley; the rising sea levels already flooding coastal cities; the storms and wildfires routinely ravaging vast swathes of the US countryside; and the water and food supply disruptions that threaten us all.

Other parties to the Paris agreement have responded to Trump’s decision with strength, thus proving the resilience of the agreement itself. The rest of the world will be sad to see a US that has been left behind, owing to Trump’s decision, but we will not wait; in fact, we are already moving on.

The world’s response will be clear at the G20 meeting in Germany next month. Already, Europe, China, India, Canada, and Pacific Rim and South American countries have recommitted to the goals of the Paris agreement. These countries understand the dangers of climate change, as do ExxonMobil’s global shareholders, who, just this week, rejected the company’s attempts to ignore the impact of climate change on its business.

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