Coast KZN

02 Jun 2017

Trump’s Paris Agreement pullout – what the experts say

Laurie Goering (Thomson Reuters Foundation)

President Donald Trump on Thursday said he will withdraw the United States from the landmark 2015 global agreement to fight climate change. Photo Credeit: Andrew Harnik/AP

US President Donald Trump’s decision to pull his country out of the Paris Agreement on climate change will not derail action to curb one of the most serious problems facing the planet, political leaders, scientists, activists and other experts vowed on Thursday.

But they warned that the decision could slow the pace of a global switch to clean energy, putting more lives and billions of dollars in investment at risk as climate change impacts – from worsening droughts and floods to more rapid sea-level rise – pick up pace.

It also is likely to further erode US leadership in the world, with China and the European Union expected to take the lead on global climate action – and will cost the United States jobs in surging clean energy businesses, they said.

But with much of the on-the-ground action on climate change taking place at the city and state level, as well as by companies, Trump’s national decision may have less impact than expected, mayors and economists said.

What remains unclear is how much influence the Trump administration will now have on how the Paris Agreement is put into action, starting in 2018, given that the United States’ exit from the accord cannot be immediate, experts said.

Here are key views on the decision from around the world:

Andrew Steer, President, World Resources Institute
“Make no mistake: this is a reckless decision that is bad for the world and even worse for the United States … President Trump has flushed away years of hard work and skillful diplomacy, leaving Americans and future generations less secure and more isolated in the face of this great global challenge.”

Rahm Emanuel, Mayor of Chicago
“Reneging on the Paris Agreement is shortsighted and does not make climate change any less real. From reducing our energy use to expanding public transit, Chicago will not skirt our responsibility to act.”

Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris
“No matter what decision is made by the White House, cities are honouring their responsibilities to implement the Paris Agreement. There is no alternative for the future of our planet.”

Michael Brune, Executive Director, Sierra Club
“Donald Trump has made a historic mistake which our grandchildren will look back on with stunned dismay.”

Dave Reay, Chair in Carbon Management, University of Edinburgh
“The United States will come to rue this day … Climate change knows no borders, its impacts are blind to national flags. If global efforts to limit warming fail then we are all in trouble. From climate change, Mr. President, you can run but you can’t hide.”

Clover moore, Lord Mayor of Sydney
“This summer broke countless heat records in Sydney. We’ve seen coral bleaching in the harbour and the clock is ticking on climate change. We want governments working with our cities, supporting us, having policies of their own – but if not, we need them to get out of the way and let us do what has to be done.”

Paul Cook, Head of Advocacy, UK-Based charity Tearfund
“We are seeing over 16 million people facing starvation in the third year of drought in South Sudan and Ethiopia … It is disappointing that President Trump does not see the opportunity for economic growth which clean energy presents – emerging economies such as China and India are discovering how renewable energy can be a catalyst for a booming economy, creating green jobs and flourishing businesses, while reducing carbon emissions.”

Fred Krupp, President, Environmental defense Fund
“By abandoning our pledge, the president is lining up with Syria and Nicaragua, the only nations in the world that have refused to sign the agreement. He is giving away our good jobs to Europe and China. He is weakening our position in business deals and trade negotiations to come. And he is risking a global economic backlash that will hurt American workers and businesses even more.”

Taylor Dimsdale, Head of Research at E3G, an Organisation Promoting Sustainable Development
“Paris was a great deal for America. Pulling out of the agreement would put the U.S. at a disadvantage in the multi-trillion-dollar market for clean energy technologies, while at the same time making the U.S. look untrustworthy to its closest allies.”

James Rubin, Partner in International Law Firm Dorsey & Whitney, Formerly in U.S. Department of Justice
“The decision to leave the Paris accords is essentially a political statement, and one that is completely unnecessary and very ill-advised … U.S. continued participation in the accord would basically come at no actual cost. The cost, however, for withdrawal would be considerable – great harm to U.S. diplomacy, trade and the global environment.”

Mark Maslin, Professor of Climatology, University College London
“We have entered a world of fear and ignorance – when science and well-being of humanity is ignored by the President of the United States as it does not fit his world view … It shows a President out of touch with the exciting clean tech innovations and developments in his own country which could lead the world to a greener, cleaner, safer future.”

Gregor Robertson, Mayor of Vancouver
“Vancouver has the fastest-growing, most diverse economy in Canada, and at the same time we’re successfully cutting our climate pollution. We’re attracting world-leading businesses and top talent thanks in part to our focus on building a 100 percent renewably powered future. I stand in solidarity with U.S. mayors as they continue working to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, regardless of the reckless actions against climate at the federal level.”

Andreas Goldthau, Director of the Centre of International Public Policy, Royal Holloway, University of London
“The Trump administration pulling out of the 2015 Paris accord is bad news for the climate. But the United States leaving the deal altogether is much better than staying in and pushing for renegotiation. This would have meant years of deadlock and lingering, with no global action on climate policy. Leadership will now come from the EU and China.”

Steve Adler, Mayor of Austin, Texas
“Austin will not stop fighting climate change. Worldwide, cities will lead in achieving climate treaty goals because so much of what’s required happens at the local level.”

Neil Thorns, Director of Advocacy, Catholic Aid Agency CAFOD
“The plummeting cost of renewable energy, the growth of jobs in the renewable energy industry, and the unequivocal call for action from people worldwide mean that the momentum in the fight to protect our common home is unstoppable.”

Gabi Hegerl, Climate Science Professor, University of Edinburgh
“I fear for the future of our children. Even more, I fear for the future of children in developing countries, who have contributed little to the problem and will feel the impacts first. Where will they go?”

Nick Dearden, Director, Global Justice Now
“(The United States) is now washing its hands of the situation while billions of the world’s most vulnerable peoples will face the fatal consequences of rising sea levels, drought, desertification and failing crops. … Global leaders should be refusing to enter into trade negotiations with the United States as a proportionate response to this supremely reckless act of climate vandalism.”

Jonathan Bamber, Director of the Bristol Glaciology Centre, University of Bristol
“The momentum is so great and supported by so many nations that it will be no more than an unwelcome bump in the road … Individual states such as California will carry on doing what the rest of the world knows is the right thing to do on combating climate change.”

Kelle Louaillier, President, Corporate Accountability International
“Governments around the world must see the U.S. for what it is – a puppet of the fossil fuel industry.”

Frederik Dahlmann, Assistant Professor of Global Energy, Warwick Business School
“The President’s decision ignores the very significant shifts occurring in the global energy system. Combined with other key economies’ desire to accelerate rather than to stop these trends, politically the United States will find itself in growing isolation, and face accusations of scientific ignorance and moral irresponsibility.”