Mother Earth pushes US off world stage
China and Europe pledged on Friday to unite to save Mother Earth in the face of US President Donald Trump’s decision to take the world’s secondlargest carbon polluter out of the Paris climate change pact.
Others, including Russia, India and Mexico, quickly signalled their commitment to the accord, although a Kremlin aide said it would not be viable without US participation.
France said it would work with US states and cities – some of which have broken off with Trump’s decisions – to keep up the fight against climate change.
The World Meteorological Organisation sought to quantify Trump’s decision, estimating that US withdrawal from the emissionscutting accord could add 0.3°C to global temperatures by the end of the century in a worst-case scenario.
Trump, tapping into the America First message he used when he was elected president last year, said he would withdraw the US from the landmark 2015 global agreement on tackling global warming.
He said that participating would undermine the US economy, wipe out jobs, weaken the country’s national sovereignty and put it at a permanent disadvantage to other countries of the world.
The move was met with a mix of dismay and anger across the world – from many in industry as well as governments, which scrambled to renew their commitment to curbing global warming.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a pastor’s daughter who is usually intensely private about her faith, said the accord was needed “to preserve our creation”.
“To everyone for whom the future of our planet is important, I say let’s continue going down this path so we’re successful for our Mother Earth,” she said to applause from legislators. In Paris, the venue for the pact, French President Emmanuel Macron turned Trump’s “Make America great again” campaign slogan on its head, saying in a rare English-language statement that it was time to “make the planet great again”. A long-scheduled meeting on Friday between Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and top EU officials in Brussels was dominated by Trump’s decision. The meeting ended with a joint statement pledging full implementation of the Paris deal, committing China and the EU to cutting back on fossil fuels, developing more green technology and helping raise $100 billion (R1.3 trillion) per year by 2020 to help poorer countries reduce their highpolluting emissions. China has emerged as Europe’s unlikely partner in this and other areas – underlining Trump’s isolation on many issues. “There is no reverse gear to energy transition. There is no backsliding on the Paris Agreement,” said European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. The majority of scientists believe that global warming – bringing with it sharp changes in climate patterns – is mainly the result of human activities, from agriculture to industry. A small group of sceptics – some of whom are in the Trump White House – believe this is a hoax, and one that could be damaging to business. Environmental groups were scathing. The US Sierra Club, citing Trump’s endorsement of what he regards as clean coal, tweeted: “Clean coal, you can find that next to the unicorns and leprechauns.”
US President Donald Trump announces his decision that the US will withdraw from the landmark Paris climate agreement