On 1 June, Donald Trump announced that the United States would be pulling out of the Paris Climate accord. Developed under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the accord is backed by all in the framework apart from Syria, Nicaragua, and now the US.
The news sparked widespread concern in the international community as the United States is the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world.
Further cause for concern came when the White House refused to say whether or not the President believed that human activity had contributed to climate change.
President Trump has rushed to defend his actions. As has come to be expected under the current administration, he retweeted a number of supportive statements from political allies in the Republican party and media. White House Chief of Staff summed up the defence – that leaving the agreement will be to seek a better deal for the American workers and the economy. They will re-enter if this condition is met.
The scientific community also reacted with concern. Susanne Droge, the climate-policy researcher at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin said the move was “bad news for the international climate process.”
Her sentiment was reflected by the former administrator of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Jane Lubchenco, blaming Trump for having a “blatant disregard for the wishes of most Americans and business leaders.”
It’s not all doom and gloom however. The American public and political establishment have hit back at the announcement. Former mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg is leading a resistance campaign, made up of three states, a number of cities and 80 university presidents, who vow to uphold the Paris climate agreement. Bloomberg’s charity – Bloomberg Philanthropies – is also donating $15 million over the next two years to the UNFCCC.
Trump argued that he “represents the citizens of Pittsburgh not Paris”; a clear shot at the new leader of France, Emmanuel Macron, amid rumours of icy relations following their meeting on the President’s first global trip. The mayor of Pittsburgh distanced himself and his electorate from the comments in a statement, and issued an executive order on Friday pledging to continue following the Paris accords.
Many wonder what the implications are for not only the United States, but also for European and Asian nations. Several commentators have remarked that this signals the end of US hegemony, and there will most likely be a rush across Europe and Asia to become the new leader in Research and development for green initiatives.
It is undoubtedly another opportunity for China to capitalise on the new American administration’s further decline from international leadership.
President Xi Jinping has already given speeches earlier this year in a step to become the centre of free trade in the orld. It is a sign of closer ties between Europe and Asia, and another shift from the United States being the leader of the Liberal World Order.