It’s almost certain that this afternoon, President Trump will walk out into the White House Rose Garden and tell the world that America will be withdrawing from the Paris agreement. Sources close to the discussions said that he had made his decision last night – the nationalistic arguments of “America First” had prevailed, and the planet will no longer be a priority.
Politicians, scientists, academics, environmentalists, and much of the general public have expressed their utter disdain for this incoming decision. Most notably, China and the European Union – the world’s first- and third-most prolific greenhouse gas (GHG) emitters, respectively – have reacted angrily.
Both China and the EU have really stepped up their clean energy game as of late, and with America’s retraction from the Paris agreement due any moment now, they are set to become the de facto world leaders on climate change advocacy. Both their rage and ambitions have been encapsulated in a joint statement, due to be published on Friday at a summit in Brussels.
Describing the agreement as “an imperative more important than ever,” it explains that “the EU and China are joining forces to forge ahead on the implementation of the Paris agreement and accelerate the global transition to clean energy.”
“No one should be left behind,” notes Miguel Cañete, the EU climate commissioner, “but the EU and China have decided to move forward.”
It goes on to highlight that the Paris agreement isn’t just about preventing the appearance of unstoppable and increasingly powerful climatological disasters. Failing to follow the accord will directly result in threats to “national security” it is a “multiplying factor of social and political fragility.”
As has been pointed out ad nauseum, the Paris agreement will also provide a huge boost to the global economy, particularly in terms of new jobs in the renewable energy sector, efficiency savings, and less money needing to be funneled towards infrastructural repair.
Indeed, this was one of the arguments that was thought to be one of the more convincing ones put to the President, but it appears it wasn’t convincing enough. Now, as the EU and China are suggesting, it will be America itself that will face the most damage from this decision, not the planet.
This type of strongly-worded letter is a genuine cause for celebration. For the last few decades, China has gone with a “no pain, no gain” approach to its rapid industrialization, but due to apocalyptic levels of smog, the cheapness of wind and solar power, and a chance to be seen as a benevolent presence on the world stage, it’s now strongly pushing a green agenda.
Similarly, the EU is rapidly phasing out coal, and although it wobbles when it comes to nuclear power, its building wind and solar plants at a breakneck pace.
The efforts of both are far from perfect, but the fact that they’re working so hard at it – and are promising to release their ambitious carbon-cutting plans by 2020 – shows that the Paris agreement will live on with or without America’s participation.
“Other countries think that this agreement is one of the best they’ve ever been part of,” Dr Andrew Light, a climate specialist at the World Resources Institute and the former director of the US-India Joint Working Group for Combating Climate Change, told IFLScience. “It’s helping to unleash these forces of economic development and economic security in their countries.”
“We will eventually have a President that will want to do something about climate change,” Light added. “In the meantime, there’s only so much damage Trump can do.”
[H/T: BBC News]