President Donald Trump announced on 1 June 2017 that he would withdraw the United States from the landmark 2015 Paris agreement to fight climate change.
The move, perfectly in line with Trump’s "America First" message that he used during his Presidential campaign, has drawn flak from US allies and business leaders across the world.
Trump stated that the Paris accord would undermine the U.S. economy, cost U.S. jobs, weaken American national sovereignty and put the country at a permanent disadvantage to the other countries of the world.
"The nations asking us to stay in the agreement are the same countries that have collectively cost America trillions of dollars through tough trade practices and in many cases lax contributions to our critical military alliance," Trump said.
‘Trump’s Move Disappointing’
Some of the leading business figures in the United States have called Trump’s move a blow to international efforts to curb global warming that threatens far-reaching consequences for this century and beyond.
Former Democratic President Barack Obama also expressed regret over the announcement of US withdrawal from a deal that he was instrumental in brokering. He, however, added that in spite of the setback, he is confident that the American states, cities and businesses will step up and do even more to lead the way and help protect the future of the planet for the sake of future generations.
International leaders including the pope had urged Trump not go by his election campaign promise to abandon the global pact.
Fiji's Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, who is the incoming head of the U.N. Climate Change Conferences, which formalized the 2015 Paris accord, called Trump's decision "deeply disappointing". Fiji, like many other small island nations, is seen as particularly vulnerable to global warming and a possible rise in ocean levels as a result of melting polar ice.
New Agreement on US terms?
Trump, who has previously called climate change a hoax, stated that his administration would begin negotiations either to re-enter the Paris Pact or to have a new agreement, but only on terms that are fair to the United States, its businesses, workers, people and taxpayers.
Despite their dismay over US announcement, world leaders -German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni in a rare joint statement urged their allies to hasten efforts to combat climate change and pledged to do more to help developing countries adapt. They also stated that the agreement could not be renegotiated.
The Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also stated that while the U.S. decision is disheartening, they are inspired by the growing momentum around the world to combat climate change and transition to clean growth economies.
About the Paris Climate Agreement
• It is an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that deals with greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance starting in the year 2020.
• The United States was one of 195 nations that had agreed to the accord in December 2015.
• As of June 2017, 195 UNFCCC members have signed the agreement, 148 of which have ratified it.
• Under the pact, countries both rich and poor agreed to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases generated by burning fossils fuels, a major cause of global warming.
• Main Objectives of the Agreement:
- To limit the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels.
- To limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels so that it will be possible to reduce the risks and impacts of climate change.
- To take action to conserve and enhance, as appropriate, sinks and reservoirs of greenhouse gases including forests
With Trump's action, the United States will walk away from nearly every other nation in the world on one of the most important global concerns of the 21st century. Syria and Nicaragua are the only other two non-participants in the accord.
Being the world’s second biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, the exit of United States also raises questions about the fate of the accord. There are also fears that some more reluctant countries may also follow the steps of US in quitting the climate deal.