Saturday 16 December 2017

Trump pulls out of 'unfair' Paris climate change deal

US President Donald Trump announces his decision that the US will withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, in the Rose Garden of the White House yesterday. Photo: Reuters/Kevin
US President Donald Trump announces his decision that the US will withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, in the Rose Garden of the White House yesterday. Photo: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque.

Valerie Volcovici and Jeff Mason

President Donald Trump last night reassured world leaders that he remains committed to "robust efforts to protect the environment", just hours after announcing that the US will quit the historic 2015 global climate change agreement.

The President personally telephoned German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and British Prime Minister Theresa May to explain his decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord, the White House said.

A short time earlier, Mr Trump told the media: "We're getting out," at a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden in which he decried the Paris Accord's "draconian" financial and economic burdens. 

He said American withdrawal "represents a reassertion of American sovereignty".

Mr Trump said the US would begin negotiations either to re-enter the Paris Accord or to have a new agreement "on terms that are fair to the United States, its businesses, its workers, its people, its taxpayers".

With Mr Trump's action, the United States will walk away from nearly every nation in the world on one of the pressing global issues of the 21st century. 

Protesters outside the US embassy in London yesterday. Photo: PA
Protesters outside the US embassy in London yesterday. Photo: PA

The pullout will align the United States with Syria and Nicaragua as the world's only non-participants in the accord.

Mr Trump tapped into the "America First" message he used when he was elected president last year, saying: "I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.

"We don't want other leaders and other countries laughing at us any more. And they won't be," Mr Trump added.

"In order to fulfil my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord," he said.

The leaders of France, Germany and Italy issued a joint statement last night to say that the Paris climate accord cannot be renegotiated as Mr Trump has demanded. 

Declaring their "regret" at Mr Trump's move, President Emmanuel Macron, Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said they remain committed to the "irreversible" accord and regard it as "a cornerstone in the co-operation between our countries, for effectively and timely tackling climate change". 

The US was one of 195 nations that agreed to the accord, a deal that former US president Barack Obama was instrumental in brokering.

Mr Obama, in a statement, expressed regret over Mr Trump's action.

"The nations that remain in the Paris agreement will be the nations that reap the benefits in jobs and industries created. I believe the United States of America should be at the front of the pack," Mr Obama said. 

"But even in the absence of American leadership; even as this administration joins a small handful of nations that reject the future; I'm confident that our states, cities, and businesses will step up and do even more to lead the way, and help protect for future generations the one planet we've got," Mr Obama added.

The Irish Government "is extremely disappointed and concerned that the United States has decided to withdraw from the Paris agreement", Climate Action Minister Denis Naughten said last night.  

Mr Naughten warned: "We are all vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and we all have a responsibility to address climate change within our respective capabilities.

"This is a major setback for the international community and it is essential that the decision of the United States does not weaken global resolve," he said. 

International climate policy expert and DCU lecturer Dr Diarmuid Torney said there was little to no prospect of the 195 signatories to the Paris Accord agreeing to any renegotiation, given that the deal took two decades to strike.

"I presume [Trump]'s just trying to sound reasonable to the rest of the world, but nothing will come of that," he said.

"If the other countries want to renegotiate with him, and go back to the drawing board, it could happen, but it's 195 to one." 

The US cannot begin the process of withdrawing from the agreement until at least November 2019.

It must then give notice of a year, which means an exit would be likely in November 2020 - the same month as the next US presidential election.

What's in the Paris Agreement?

  • Aims to keep average global temperature rises "well below" 2C above pre-industrial levels by 2100, and "endeavour to limit" them to 1.5C.
  • Rich countries to help developing nations by providing climate finance to assist in adaptation and moving to renewable energy.
  • Five-year reviews of each country's emission targets, which can only be scaled-up in ambition and not reduced.
  • Limit greenhouse gases emissions to the level that they can be naturally absorbed by trees, soils and oceans, so-called 'carbon neutrality', between 2050 and 2100.

Irish Independent

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