The European Union will not renegotiate the Paris Accord for America’s sake, the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said yesterday while addressing the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

Jean Claude Juncker.

Jean-Claude Juncker during the plenary session week 29 of the EU Parliament, Strasbourg, in 2014.
Image credits Euractiv / Flickr.

In what was probably his most disappointing choice both internally and internationally, US President Donald Trump announced that the land of the free would join hands with like-minded Syria and Nicaragua — which actually rejected the Paris Agreement because it wasn’t ambitious enough– and withdraw from the Paris Accord. His long-term strategy, with ample air quotes, of course, was to force a renegotiation of what he feels are unfair terms of the accord — i.e. “China stealing our jobs, the world is treating the US unfairly,” hurr durr.

Which of course isn’t the case. Still, what’s done is done but it seems that the president overplayed his hand, as the EU categorically refuses any re-negotiation of the Paris climate agreement. Speaking to the European Parliament, Jean-Claude Juncker said that it took 20 years of work putting the accord together and mustering everybody under its banner — and that it’s time for implementation, not further talks. Basically, everyone knows what must be done and it’s time to get to it.

Not only is the US’ announced withdrawal a sad event, he continued, but also “a sign of abdication from common action in dealing with the fate of our planet”. In the end, Juncker believes that the US jumping ship won’t break the Agreement — rather, it will strengthen the remaining countries’ commitment and cooperation towards the full provisions agreed on in Paris. As one of the (if not the) most powerful single technological, political, and economic entity still in the accord after the US’ withdrawal, the bloc made its position clear on the issue for all other signatories to rally around:

“The European Union will not renegotiate the Paris Agreement,” Mr Juncker said according to the BBC.

“The 29 articles of the agreement must be implemented and not renegotiated. Climate action does not need more distractions. We have spent 20 years negotiating. Now it is the time for action. Now it is the time for implementation.”

Other officials echoed Mr. Juncker’s sentiments. The president of the Marshall Island, Hilda Heine, also addressed the Parliament and stressed the importance of keeping course, saying the agreements set in the Paris Accord are as good as they get and that “we don’t have the luxury of more time”. She added that the three years’ time before the US officially pulls out of the Accord should be used to convince President Trump of what’s at stake and the importance of climate action, and that Europe should set even higher goals for itself in the light of the withdrawal by adopting five-year targets instead of the current 10-year plans.

The EU Parliament also voted by a huge majority in favor of binding national emission-cutting targets in areas including transport, agriculture, and waste management on Wednesday. These areas are not covered by Europe’s emissions trading scheme and will further the Union’s efforts of cutting emissions down by 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.

All in all, Trump’s US finds itself more and more disconnected, furiously brandishing coal and oil despite huge internal dissent and as the rest of the world looks towards stronger climate action and green growth. The EU’s Parliament stance on the issue is crystal clear: we will keep our word given freely in Paris, with or without the US by our side.

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