After Trump’s announcement that he will withdraw from the Paris Agreement, the world’s reaction was swift and scathing. With responses filled with disappointment, anger, or flat out mockery, world leaders have made a common front to defend the planet — regardless of Trump’s reckless decision.
The Paris Agreement is basically a last-ditch attempt for the entire planet to come together politically and economically and work together to limit the devastating effects of climate change. It’s not perfect and it’s almost certainly not ambitious enough, but as you’d imagine, it’s never easy to get almost 200 world leaders to agree on something, especially something as complex as global warming. Besides, the idea was only to provide a policy starting point, with the market and other mechanisms doing the rest of the work. If we don’t take action together, globally, everyone will suffer — but Trump said “Screw it,” regardless of the consequences. Well, the entire world (aside from maybe Russia’s Vladimir Putin, who seems pretty happy) said “screw you” right back.
The German press was direct, as it usually is. But some took it further than others.
China, the world’s largest polluter but also the world’s largest renewable energy producer, has expressed extreme disappointment at the fact. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, currently in Berlin discussing with European leaders, stated:
“Fighting climate change is a global consensus, not invented by China,” said Li, referencing a tweet by Trump in 2012, which claimed that China had “invented” global warming to “make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”
Still, in a rare instance when the voices of China and Europe leaders perfectly coincide, he reiterated China’s support for the pact and said that with or without the US, China will continue efforts to reduce its own carbon footprint.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel reiterated this idea, saying that it will be a challenge for the other countries to assume the leadership formerly held by the US. Merkel called Trump’s withdrawal “highly regrettable, to put it very mildly,” but she too added that this doesn’t change anything for the other countries: “this decision cannot and will not stop those of us who feel obligated to protect our Earth.” Not only did European and Chinese leaders speak together, but the European Union also issued a joint statement with the African Union, in similar terms.
Elsewhere in the world, Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada, said that he was “deeply disappointed” by the US decision.
“We are proud that Canada stands united with all the other parties that support the Agreement,” he added.
France: Make the Planet Great Again
But perhaps the most striking response came from France, where the newly elected president Emmanuel Macron rashly criticized Trump’s divisive and isolationist policies. Referring to his “Make America great again” motto, Macron had a different take on things.
Withdrawing from the Paris Agreement is a mistake both for the US, and our planet, Macron said in a touching speech. He went even further, raising an invitation to “all scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, responsible citizens who were disappointed by the decision of the United States,” saying: “I want to say that they will find in France a second homeland.” Previously, unnamed White House aides were quoted as saying that Macron’s words “irritate” Trump.
Bad for America, bad for the planet
Trump’s main motivation (at least the motivation he quoted) was that the deal is bad for the US, and doesn’t make much of a difference globally. Well, as the authors of the study he quoted themselves said, he misunderstood and misquoted the study. In fact, scientists have been even more vocal in their critique of Trump. Speaking to Scientific American, Jane Lubchenco, a marine ecologist at Oregon State University and former administration of the NOAA, said:
“Where to start? President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement shows a blatant disregard for the wishes of most Americans and business leaders, an irresponsible and callous dismissal of the health, safety, and economic well-being of Americans, a moral emptiness in ignoring impacts to the poorest people in the US and around the world, and gross ignorance about overwhelming scientific evidence. Far from “protecting America” as the president stated, withdrawing from Paris will make America more vulnerable and diminish its world leadership. It is terrifying that the individual who should be leading the rest of the world is so arrogant and irresponsible.”
Thomas Stocker, former co-chair of the IPCC and an environmental physicist at the University of Bern, Switzerland, echoed Macron — saying that this is bad for the US, and the planet.
“Trump’s decision to ignore scientific facts of climate disruption and the high risks of climate-change impacts is irresponsible not only towards his own people but to all people and life on this planet. The US administration prefers old technology over innovation and transformation. It is rejecting the enormous benefits and returns that leadership in the next industrial revolution — decarbonization — has to offer.”
These aren’t isolated statements — they represent a greater sentiment existing across all scientists, be they US and international. As for the US population — 70% of all Americans wanted to remain in the Paris Agreement. So if scientists hated it, world leaders hated it, and the people hated it, who does this make happy? Well, the US senators who pushed for an exit from the Paris Agreement are heavily on the payroll of fossil fuel companies — and they’re probably really happy right now.
This sets the stage for a clinched, uncertain future: on one hand, there’s international relations, environmental policies, scientists, and the population; on the other hand, there’s a bunch of US politicians and the fossil fuel companies. For now, in the US, the latter won the battle.