Trump gives the world more reasons to save our planet

China Daily | Updated: 2017-06-02 09:51

Trump gives the world more reasons to save our planet

US President Donald Trump (R) walks with the President of the European Council Donald Tusk in Brussels, Belgium, May 25, 2017. [Photo/Agencies]

Once in a while there comes a time when just a single action of just one man changes, for better or for worse, the course of the world. The 21st century, during its short span, has experienced quite a few such occasions, and two of those have been the handiwork of the leaders of the richest and strongest country of the world.

The first, however, was masked as a move to free the world of terrorism. We know today what it has entailed.

The consequences of the second can only be guessed as of now. Yet it doesn’t take rocket science to fathom that US President Donald Trump’s decision on Thursday to pull the United States out of the 2015 Paris climate change agreement makes the future of concerted global action against climate change uncertain.

The signs of the times to come were visible at the end of April, when Trump signed the “Energy Independence Executive Order” to “annul” the Barack Obama administration’s legislation on reducing coal, oil and gas production and curbing carbon emissions. The scrapping of Obama’s Clean Power Plan made it almost impossible for the US to honor its international climate commitments, the Paris climate agreement included. Ever since there have been murmurs that Trump would pull the US out of the Paris pact.

Announcing his decision, Trump, who has dismissed climate change as a hoax, said: “The United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord. Thank you, but begin negotiations to re-enter either the Paris accord or an entirely new transaction on terms that are fair to the United States, its businesses, its workers, its people, its taxpayers — so we’re getting out.”

Trump’s repeated questioning of human beings’ role in climate change, promise to slash Environmental Protection Agency funding, and appointment of anti-climate change litigator Scott Pruitt as EPA chief were suggestive of the things to come.

That the US under Obama’s leadership and China played a big role in negotiating the Paris agreement is common knowledge. The two countries’ announcement of drastically curbing their respective emissions ensured widespread participation in the Paris pact. Which means Trump’s move to withdraw the US from the pact could also have severe diplomatic consequences, as other countries, its close allies included, might no longer expect Washington to honor its commitments.

Perhaps the most succinct summation of Trump’s decision came from Annie Leonard, Greenpeace USA Executive Director: “By withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement, the Trump administration has turned America from a global climate leader into a global climate deadbeat.”

Despite the US withdrawal, China, one of the first countries to ratify the Paris pact, will stick to the commitment to fulfill its Paris pledges, as Premier Li Keqiang stressed in Berlin on Thursday during his visit to Germany.

Just as Obama said on Thursday, “even in the absence of American leadership; even as this administration joins a small handful of nations that reject the future”, the rest of the world, including China, will do even more to protect for future generations the one planet we’ve got.

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