Delivering 'Catastrophic Message in a Moment of Great Urgency,' Trump Formally Begins Ditching Paris Climate Deal
As President Donald Trump’s administration on Monday took the first step to formally withdraw from the Paris agreement, climate campaigners reiterated concerns about the United States ditching the landmark 2015 deal that aims to bring countries together to tackle the climate emergency.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the move in a tweet Monday, the first day that world leaders could begin the one-year withdrawal process:
In response, Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and a leading expert on the United Nations’ international climate negotiations process, warned that “President Trump’s decision to walk away from the Paris agreement is irresponsible and shortsighted. All too many people are already experiencing the costly and harmful impacts of climate change in the form of rising seas, more intense hurricanes and wildfires, and record-breaking temperatures.”
The primary goal of the Paris accord is to “strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.”
“The moral outrage at this decision will be a powerful catalyst for action.”
—May Boeve, 350.org
Trump announced his intention to abandon the agreement, which was backed by the Obama administration, in a June 2017 speech. In the two years since, every nation on earth has pledged support for the accord, which went into effect on Nov. 4, 2016. No country was allowed to withdraw for three years.
The Trump administration was required to send a letter to the United Nations to begin the withdrawal process. U.S. State Department spokesperson James Dewey had told The Associated Press Friday that “the U.S. position with respect to the Paris agreement has not changed. The United States intends to withdraw from the Paris agreement.”
“The total retreat by President Trump and his administration in the global fight against climate change is the definition of betrayal,” declared Environmental Working Group president Ken Cook. “The U.S. and the world are rapidly running out of time to stave off the worst impacts of climate disruption, while the president is actively working to speed up our collision with the biggest existential threat facing every American.”
Ahead of the administration’s letter on Monday, Jean Su, energy director with the Center for Biological Diversity’s (CBD) Climate Law Institute, said in a statement that “Trump can run from the Paris agreement, but he can’t hide from the climate crisis.”
“The silver lining is, Trump’s Paris withdrawal will give the global community a break from his bullying support for fossil fuels,” said Su. “But the next president will need to rejoin the accord immediately and commit to the rapid, wholescale clean-energy transformation the climate emergency demands.”
The yearlong process means the U.S. withdrawal would take effect after the next presidential election—meaning that if someone other than Trump wins the White House in 2020, that president could return to the deal within 30 days.
“America is the number one historical contributor to the climate emergency wreaking havoc in burning California, the flooded Southeast, and the rest of the world,” Su added. “The next president must repay this extraordinary climate debt by rapidly moving America to 100 percent clean energy and financing the decarbonization of the Global South.”
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“The next president must repay this extraordinary climate debt by rapidly moving America to 100 percent clean energy and financing the decarbonization of the Global South.”
—Jean Su, CBD
Karen Orenstein, Friends of the Earth’s deputy director of economic policy, concurred in a statement Monday.
“World leaders must not wait for Trump, and must not use his moral bankruptcy as an excuse for inaction,” she said. “The rest of the world must implement the Paris agreement without the United States.”
“However, rich countries must take the threat caused by climate change far more seriously and make their mitigation and climate finance commitments commensurate with what climate science and justice demand,” Orenstein added. “When the U.S. has more sane leadership and rejoins the international community, the Paris agreement needs to be substantially more equitable and ambitious.”
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