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Trump makes much heralded announcement to quit Paris Accord
The President of the United States, Donald Trump, announced on Thursday 1 June, Washington time, (Friday morning EST), that he would be leading his country out of the Paris Climate Change Agreement unleashing across the board condemnation.
National governments, industry, science, religious, environment and youth groups have expressed a range of emotions from disappointment to some framed in much stronger language to convey their concern at the action. Media reaction has been almost universally negative, sometimes blisteringly so. AWN has waited for the maelstrom of reaction to settle down before producing this summary
The announcement and immediate reaction
Mr Trump's announcement was immediately given saturation media coverage around the world. ABC News reported the substance of his 40-minute speech along with immediate reaction or last minute advice from US political and business leaders and Australian politicians. It also provides a Paris Climate Deal explainer video.
Climate Central gave a lengthy report including an analysis pointing out errors of fact in the speech. It noted that the US is withdrawing its $3 billion commitment to the Green Climate Fund, which helps "developing countries that are suffering the brunt of climate change despite having caused very little of it. Trump said the fund is 'costing the U.S. a vast fortune' though it represents only $9.41 per capita, well below Sweden’s leading $59.31 per capita commitment."
news.com.au speedily produced reactions from current and past political leaders, business and industry chiefs (including oil companies) and media. ABC News produced an exhaustive wrap-up of global and Australian comment during Friday morning.
In breaking with the Accord, the USA joins just two other countries that were not signatories to the agreement. Syria is torn by civll war and Nicaragua believed the agreement did not go far enough, calling it a "path to failure" which needed to be tougher on the big polluters [ABC News]. Nicaragua was hit by 44 extreme weather events in the 20 years to 2015 and pointed out that the 100 smallest countries, many of which were most vulnerable to climate change, added only 3% to total carbon pollution while the world's top ten polluters contributed 72%.
Media condemnation in Australia was universal, while in the rest of the world it was almost so. Rather than try to summarise the often overlapping and similar articles across Australian media, I have chosen several from The Guardian Australia to encapsulate the reactions of many.
The Guardian describes the Paris exit as the climate science denial industry having its greatest victory - "Now is the time to learn about the methods, the tactics, the personnel, the structure and the reach of the global climate science denial industry. They just convinced the leader of the United States to pull the plug on a historic deal signed by almost 200 countries, and instead join Nicaragua and Syria as the only countries not signed up. It is time to take that climate science denial industry seriously."
Oliver Milman analysed Trump's speech, paragraph by paragraph, pointing out the misinformation and plain wrong facts - what you might call fake news - that it contains. A small selection of examples includes:
- Quoting "research" done by front companies for petroleum interests as fact
- Ignoring that China and India are investing billions in renewables
- Staking future prosperity on a revival in coal when major coal mining firms themselves have conceded those jobs aren’t coming back
- Ignoring that the rapidly expanding solar energy industry employs twice as many people in the US as the heavily-automated coal industry
- Claiming the Paris accord places "onerous energy restrictions" on the US that are not placed on other nations when in fact the accord places no restrictions on any nation as to how to achieve CO2 reductions
- Using scare tactics (blackouts, closed businesses, lost jobs, reduced quality of life) if coal jobs not reinstated
- Saying that the Paris accord if fully implemented would only result in a 0.2° reduction in temperature which was stiftly rebutted by the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the source of the misquote, which they had given as 0.9°
Milman concludes "Ultimately, the only recourse to Trump’s decision will be through the ballot box. The notice period for withdrawing from the Paris deal expires in November 2020 – the month of the next presidential election. Climate change will likely be, for once, a live issue at the election."
The Guardian also gave a substantial summary of the reactions of world leaders following Trump's announcement. Perhaps the most pithy came from France's President Emmanuel Macron who said "Don’t be mistaken on climate; there is no plan B because there is no planet B." German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni and President Macron jointly said "We deem the momentum generated in Paris in December 2015 irreversible and we firmly believe that the Paris Agreement cannot be renegotiated, since it is a vital instrument for our planet, societies and economies." America's neighbours Mexico and Canada, the Vatican, the EU, Japan, Brazil, New Zealand and others have all condemned the decision with other such as UK and Australia expressing disappointment. China is simply getting on with an increased effort now required in alliance with EU. Religious leaders, youth and environment groups also expressed concern.
Leaders of Apple, Google, Twitter, Amazon, Facebook, Tesla, Microsoft and IBM declared climate change an "urgent" threat that required a global effort to combat. Quotes from them in The Guardian included "wrong for our planet", "incredibly shortsighted" and "puts our children’s future at risk".
For a last word in this AWN report, award-winning scientist, environmentalist and broadcaster David Suzuki, writing in The Guardian, directly addressed Donald Trump, the self-styled businessman who "gets economics" and "knows the art of the deal". He said "You claim you know a good deal when you see one. Well, you just passed on one of the best our planet has ever seen." He pointed out that worldwide, nearly 10 million people already work in renewable energy and clean technology exports now surpass $1.15tn per year. "By withdrawing from this historical agreement, Trump will make more enemies than friends" said Suzuki, adding that even "73% of Trump voters want the US to use more renewable energy" and "even fossil fuel companies – the likes of ExxonMobil, BP and Shell – think the US should stick with Paris.