Trump’s decision to exit the Paris deal will not just hurt the world, but US also – editorials
Earlier this week, the United States began the paperwork for the one-year process to formally exit the Paris climate agreement. However, the Donald Trump administration cannot finalise the exit until a day after the presidential election in November 2020, and many are hoping that a new president (if there is one) will reverse the anti-climate stand. The Democratic front-runners challenging Mr Trump, who has alternately ignored or denied the climate crisis, have all said they would set the country on a path to neutralise its climate pollution by 2050. In addition, the administration has also pulled US funding commitments to help the developing world cut pollution, which is its moral responsibility for being the biggest carbon polluter in history. The situation inside the US is somewhat better: Fourteen states that represent 40% of the population have pledged to meet the Paris goals by 2025.
The Trump administration’s move is short-sighted and dangerous, and unsurprisingly has faced a barrage of criticism. The former vice-president and climate campaigner Al Gore said on Twitter: “No one person or party can stop our momentum to solve the climate crisis. But those who try will be remembered for their complacency, complicity, and mendacity in attempting to sacrifice the planet for their greed.” John Kerry and Chuck Hagel, President Barack Obama’s secretaries of state and defence respectively, in a Washington Post op-ed, called it a “dark day for America”.
By moving out of the Paris deal, the US is not only jeopardising the US and the rest of the world’s future, but is also leaving the field wide open for China to corner the growing renewable energy market. This will not only hurt the US economically, but also spur a power shift in world politics. A recent report issued by Global Commission on the Geopolitics of Energy Transformation, a group chaired by a former president of Iceland, Olafur Grimsson, points out that China, one of the largest emitters of CO2 and other greenhouse gases, is now the world’s largest producer, exporter and installer of solar panels, wind turbines, batteries and electric vehicles. The rapid growth of renewable energy, the report argues, could lead to geopolitical and socio-economic consequences as profound as those which accompanied the shift from biomass to fossil fuels two centuries ago. The changes are likely to include the emergence of new energy leaders around the world, changing patterns of trade and the development of new alliances. That the US has failed to see this is surprising.