EU to bypass Trump administration after Paris climate agreement pullout

02 June 2017 | Mitigation

The European Union has rejected Donald Trump’s offer to renegotiate the Paris climate agreement and pledged instead to bypass Washington to work with US business leaders and state governors to implement the historic accord’s commitments.

Less than 24 hours after the US president announced his decision to withdraw from the 2015 agreement and strike a new, less ambitious deal with the world, Brussels declared its outright refusal to engage in such talks.

EU officials will instead cut out the White House to deal directly with the US states and major corporations, many of whom who have already pledged to live by the terms forged in Paris.

Miguel Arias Cañete, the European commissioner for climate action, said a global agreement should not be put at the whim of a domestic election. “The Paris agreement is fit for purpose,” the Spanish politician said, gripping a copy of the document that 195 countries have pledged to support. “The Paris agreement is here to stay. The 29 articles of this Paris agreement are not to be renegotiated. They are to be implemented. That’s what the EU will do.”

Cañete, who was speaking in Brussels after finalising a joint statement with China on accelerating efforts to reduce carbon emissions, said: “The world can continue to count on the EU on providing global leadership fighting climate change … We will do so developing strong partnerships.

“The fight against climate change cannot depend on the result of elections in one country of another. When a country signs an international agreement it has to fulfil its commitments. There will be new administrations. I’m pretty sure President Trump hasn’t read the articles of this treaty. There is nothing to renegotiate here.”

Trump’s move has been met with a chorus of disapproval from global leaders and blue chip companies.

A number of the governors of US states have vowed to ignore Washington. The mayor of Pittsburgh also fired back against Trump, who told reporters on Thursday: “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.”

Bill Peduto wrote on Twitter: “Fact: Hillary Clinton received 80% of the vote in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh stands with the world and will follow Paris agreement. As the mayor of Pittsburgh, I can assure you that we will follow the guidelines of the Paris agreement for our people, our economy and future.”

The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, said Trump “can’t and won’t stop all those of us who feel obliged to protect the planet”. She said the move by the US to join just Nicaragua and Syria outside the accord was “extremely regrettable and that’s putting it very mildly”.

Li Keqiang, the Chinese premier, and Jean-Claude Juncker, the European commission president, also spoke together on Friday morning of the importance of continued international cooperation to defeat global warming.

Merkel, speaking at a press conference in Berlin, said Germany would not sway from the goals set out in the Paris agreement. “Nothing can or will stop us,” she said. “The road - there’s no doubt about it - is stony, but I am also convinced of the fact we cannot retrace our steps.”

She there were many other partners willing to work together and was “enthused” by the response from US companies who were supportive of the deal. “We need this Paris agreement in order to save our creation,” she said.

Analysis Paris climate deal: what was agreed and does it matter if US withdraws?

Emmanuel Macron, the French president, said in an unprecedented English-language speech from the Elysée Palace that he believed Trump had made a mistake. “I do respect this decision but I do think it is an actual mistake both for the US and for our planet.

“Wherever we live, whoever we are, we all share the same responsibility: make our planet great again,” he said.

Downing Street issued a later statement saying the British prime minister, Theresa May, had told Trump of her “disappointment”. Downing Street sources would not say whether May had been asked to sign the declaration from the other European G7 countries.

In an announcement made in the White House garden, Trump effectively took out the world’s second largest carbon emitter of greenhouse gases, from an accord that Barack Obama had described as a “major leap for mankind”, echoing Neil Armstrong’s words during the moon landing.

Trump told reporters: “The fact that the Paris deal hamstrings the United States while empowering some of the world’s top polluting countries … That’s not going to happen while I’m president, I’m sorry.”

Obama issued a rare statement saying the new administration had joined “a small handful of nations that reject the future”. He said that US 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”.

Trump’s decision risks destabilising the Paris deal, with remaining participants faced with the choice of trying to make up the shortfall in emissions cuts or following the US’s lead and abandoning the agreement. In 2015, nearly 200 countries agreed to curb greenhouse gas emissions in order to prevent the runaway climate change that would occur should temperatures spiral 2C or more above the pre-industrial era.

The US emissions reduction pledge accounts for a fifth of the global emissions to be avoided by 2030, with an analysis by not-for-profit group Climate Interactive showing that a regression to “business as usual” emissions by the US could warm the world by an additional 0.3C by 2100. This would help push global temperature rise well beyond 2C, causing punishing heatwaves, a rise in sea level, displacement of millions of people and the loss of ecosystems such as coral reefs.

Prof John Schellnhuber, a climate scientist and former adviser to the EU, Angela Merkel and the pope, said the US would be the loser from its withdrawal. “China and Europe have become world leaders on the path towards green development already and will strengthen their position if the US slips back. The Washington people around Trump fail to recognise that the climate wars are over, while the race for sustainable prosperity is on.”

Trump followed through with his campaign pledge to “cancel” US involvement in the Paris accord following months of conflicting signals over whether he would do so or just scale back the US ambition to cut emissions.

The withdrawal represents a victory for the nationalist elements in Trump’s administration, such as his strategist Steve Bannon, who have argued the Paris deal undermines an “America first” approach, harms domestic coal production and hinders efforts to repeal Barack Obama-era regulations such as the Clean Power Plan.

Trump sought to frame his decision as part of this nationalist agenda. “The Paris agreement handicaps the United States economy in order to win praise from the very foreign capitals and global activists that have long sought to gain wealth at our country’s expense,” he said. “They don’t put America first. I do, and I always will.”

The anti-agreement faction had jockeyed for Trump’s favour over a rival school of thought, including the secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, and Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and adviser, that argued the US should remain in the Paris deal in order to preserve its diplomatic influence.



Source: The Guardian