15.06.2017 - 14:45

With or Without Trump – The Fight Against Climate Change Is Still On

He did it. Donald Trump shocked the world by announcing to withdraw the US from the Paris climate agreement. What are the reactions and what are the consequences?

During his campaign Donald Trump repeatedly stated that he thinks climate change is not real. He told people it is a hoax made up by China, it is dangerous for the US economy and denied any human influence on climate change. And often he ended with the promise to pull out of the Paris climate agreement. Now, he led actions follow and announced at a live press conference in early June that under present circumstances he is not willing to stay in the agreement. In his opinion the US is treated highly unfair due to the fact that they have to pay money to less developed countries while their economy has to face strict regulations.

Quickly after the announcement reaction of foreign leaders started to emerge. They all showed that Trump’s decision is not likely to lead to a snowball effect of countries pulling out, it rather leads to a more firmly, more determined commitment to the Paris agreement. For example China, the world’s largest CO2 emitter, reassured their willingness to fight climate change. Similar reaction came from leaders like India, Russia and the remaining G7 countries. Quickly after the press conference Germany, Italy and France released a joint statement in which they declared:

“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”.

The German chancellor Angela Merkel said that she was disappointed with Trumps decision but will work for global policies that save our planet now more than ever. In a much acclaimed press conference the French president Emmanuel Macron send out an invitation to all disappointed entrepreneurs, scientists and citizens to come to France to work there. He ended with the statement: “Make our planet great again” a reference to Trumps campaign slogan.

Not only leaders of foreign countries criticised Trump’s step to pull out, but also important people from his home country started to form resistance. Donald Trump may have sparked unprecedented determination within the US to confront the danger of climate change. A coalition of several states, governors, cities, lawmakers, companies and universities – including Los Angeles and New York- already formed an opposition to keep on fighting climate change by adopting goals from the Paris agreement. They are now trying to independently cooperate with foreign countries and the UN.

A large variety of businesses ranging from Facebook to Goldman Sachs and General Motors threw their weight behind the deal as well. Out of protest Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla, as well as Disney’s CEO Robert Iger left the White House advisory councils. Even big fossil fuel companies like ExxonMobil, BP and Shell stated their support for the Paris agreement.

The last days showed that Donald Trump’s step can lead to new coalitions, a higher sense of responsibility and a strong mobilisation.

If the resistance of different players from politics, businesses, media and the general public will stay and can be transform into any kind of motivation and action, Trump’s withdraw might end in something positive. A sign, that steps are made in the right direction, comes from research of the independent Climate Action Tracker. Their newest analyses show that China and India both might considerably excel their climate goals which would lead to higher savings in CO2. This might be due to the fact that renewable energies constantly get cheaper in these countries.

The optimistic tune in Europe and the rest of the world should be captured and used to create solutions and find new partners for an economy and development in direction of climate justice.


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