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Condemnation, despair as Trump withdraws U.S. from Paris Agreement

U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday, May 1, 2017 finally announced his long-awaited decision for the country to withdraw from the Paris Agreement during a Rose Garden address.

Trump-coal

With coal miners gathered around him, Trump some months ago signed an Executive Order rolling back a temporary ban on mining coal and a stream protection rule imposed by the Obama administration

“In order to fulfill my solemn duty to protect its citizens,” he said, “the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord.”

The process could be a lengthy one, as both Trump and White House energy policy adviser Michael Catanzaro said the administration would follow the steps for withdrawal laid out in the deal itself.

“We will initiate the process, which, all told, takes four years in total. But we’re going to make very clear to the world that we’re not going to be abiding by what the previous administration agreed to,” they stated.

Expectedly, the somewhat unpopular announcement has attracted widespread reaction – albeit bordering on global condemnation from stateholders.

But they appear to be defiant, as civil society representatives and social movement leaders from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the United States vow to build people power to address the climate crisis.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) said in a statement: “The Secretariat of the UNFCCC regrets the announcement by the President of the United States that his government will withdraw from the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

“The Secretariat also notes the announced intention to renegotiate the modalities for the US participation in the agreement. In this regard, it stands ready to engage in dialogue with the United States government regarding the implications of this announcement.

“The Paris Agreement remains a historic treaty signed by 194 and ratified by 147 counties. Therefore it cannot be renegotiated based on the request of a single Party.

“The Paris Agreement is aimed at reducing risk to economies and lives everywhere, while building the foundation for a more prosperous, secure and sustainable world. It enjoys profound credibility, as it was forged by all nations and is supported by a growing wave of business, investors, cities, states, regions and citizens. We are committed to continue working with all governments and partners in their efforts to fast forward climate action at global and national levels.”

Al Gore, former U.S. Vice-President, and Founder and Chairman, The Climate Reality Project, reacted: “Removing the United States from the Paris Agreement is a reckless and indefensible action. It undermines America’s standing in the world and threatens to damage humanity’s ability to solve the climate crisis in time.

“But disappointment is not despair.

“Make no mistake: if President Trump won’t lead, the American people will.

“Civic leaders, mayors, governors, CEOs, investors and the majority of the business community will take up this challenge. We are in the middle of a clean energy revolution that no single person or group can stop. President Trump’s decision is profoundly in conflict with what the majority of Americans want from our president; but no matter what he does, we will ensure that our inevitable transition to a clean energy economy continues.

“As proof, just look at how communities like Salt Lake City, Utah and Boulder, Colorado are committing to switch to 100 percent renewable electricity. Just last month, California set a new record for clean energy use in the state, and over the past several weeks and months, major corporations and businesses from around the world reaffirmed their commitment to clean energy, the Paris Agreement, and US leadership on climate. The momentum of clean energy and climate action only continues to build, and ignoring that reality is shortsighted and wrong.

Now it’s up to us to pick up where the White House is leaving off. It’s up to us to keep this progress going full steam ahead. If you’re in the US, commit to pushing your local council or mayor to embrace renewable electricity in your community. If you’re outside the US, commit to pressuring your leaders to fulfill your country’s Paris Agreement pledge and keep the process moving.

“My friends, it’s time to fight like our world depends on it. Because it does. And because together we will win.”

German Federal Environment Minister, Barbara Hendricks, submitted: “I regret the President’s decision. The damage this causes to multilateral cooperation is even more severe than the damage done to international climate action. The unique thing about Paris is that it showcases the world’s determination to make a common effort to tackle one of the most serious global problems of our times. The Trump administration has now announced to pull out of this joint project. By leaving, the US administration is throwing away a precious opportunity for forward-looking development in the United States. This decision harms the United States itself most of all.

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“Climate action will continue and will not be stopped by this decision. Large parts of the business sector in the US are already gearing themselves up for a greenhouse gas-neutral future. They recognise the immense economic opportunities which that future offers. They will not be moved away from their path by their President’s decision.

“As far as the implementation of the Paris Agreement is concerned, I remain optimistic, because on top of all this, the rest of the world backs the agreement. Over the past few weeks we have had many encouraging signals from Europe, China, Russia, India, Canada and many other countries. The rest of the world is closing ranks, the commitment to climate action has become even stronger. Trump has opted for the past, the rest of the world has chosen the future.

“Internationally speaking, however, the US is leaving us with a leadership vacuum. Over the years, the US has been a valuable ally on global climate action. Without the United States, the historic breakthrough in Paris would not have been possible. But the Paris Agreement will endure, even without the US. Others will lead the way and we Europeans will certainly be among them.”

Nnimmo Bassey, Chair of the Board of Directors, Global Greengrants Fund and Terry Odendahl, President and CEO: “We are outraged by Donald Trump’s shameful and immoral decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. This assault on the rights of people and nature to exist is steered by greed and a total disregard for the millions of families whose very lives are at stake.

“In 2015, we joined civil society and world negotiators in Paris to advocate for swift action on climate change. We never claimed that the resulting agreement was perfect, but an unlivable planet was never an option.

“Whether Mr. Trump agrees with the science of climate change or not, the United States is located on Planet Earth and no nation is exempt from the impacts of global warming.

We stand in solidarity with partners around the world, and we call for resistance against unjust and polluting industries before more harm is done. We reaffirm our commitment to communities that are standing up to corporate greed while battling the rising impacts of global warming. They are where real progress will happen, with or without the Paris climate deal.

Mithika Mwenda, Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA): “With the plan by Trump to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, people power and international solidarity are the only hope we have of averting an unimaginable climate crisis which will fan the flames of every existing inequality and injustice. It will take all of us around the world, organising together, to hold the historic emitters like the U.S. under the watch of Donald Trump to account and ensure our governments also do their fair share of climate action in the next four years to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees. Trump’s decision doesn’t change that.”

Lidy Nacpil, Asian Peoples Movement on Debt and Development: “The U.S. pull-out from the Paris Agreement should be strongly condemned and denounced by all peoples of the world. Not because the Paris Agreement is perfect, certainly not because the Paris Agreement will save the world from climate catastrophe.  But because a U.S. pull-out reveals utter disregard for the fate of humanity in favor of continued hegemony of U.S. elites and big corporate interests. Not to mention a tyrannical refusal to accept scientific findings.”

Ben Schreiber, Friends of the Earth USA: “Climate change is not waiting for U.S. action and neither can the rest of the world. Trump has turned the U.S. into a rogue climate state and the world should use economic and diplomatic pressure to compel the U.S. to do its fair share. The majority of Americans do not support Trump and his fossil fuel agenda that puts corporate profits above people. The struggle to create real, deep change continues in the U.S. The resistance to Trump is strong and it is growing.”

Tadzio Mueller, Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung: “Our justified outrage at Trump should not blind us to the destructive policies that he pursued before he got out of Paris, and that are still being pursued by many countries that remain parties to the Paris Agreement. Germany, for example, long feted as a champion of international climate politics, is not world leader in renewable energies, but in fact world leader in digging up and burning lignite, the dirtiest of all the fossil fuels. The struggle for climate justice remains one that must be fought at all levels: from the global, all the way to the local. Trump pulling out of Paris only reinforces the key message: if we want to protect the climate, we can’t wait for our governments to do so. We’ve got to do it ourselves.”

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Sreedhar Ramamurthi, Environics India: “Thanks to historic U.S. pollution, we are already suffering the consequences of a rapidly warming world with droughts, fires, and floods wreaking havoc with livelihoods and lives, even displacing whole communities. Trump wants to add to that historic pollution and condemn present and future generations in the global south to further suffering and death. We cannot allow this, there must be forceful political, legal, and economic consequences levied against the U.S. Trump must realise that in the case of climate, nature has the trump card and not him and his cronies!”

Rachel Smolker, BiofuelWatch USA: “I am ashamed of my country’s persistent role in undermining efforts to create a strong and binding agreement, now culminating in Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. Here in the U.S. climate justice activists are scrambling hard to find a path forward from within.  We hope our allies will let their voices be heard at U.S. embassies – to both isolate Donald Trump and his ilk – and apply pressure on the U.S. to step up and take responsibility for real and equitable solutions to the escalating climate catastrophe.”

Antonio Zambrano Allende, Movimiento Ciudadano frente al Cambio Climático (MOCICC): “As climate justice movements we stand in solidarity with frontline communities and environmental defenders in the U.S. who have been struggling to ensure the U.S. government takes action on climate change since long before the Paris Agreement. In that spirit of solidarity we call on people everywhere to show up wherever Mr. Trump goes to tell him that his hatred and fear are not welcome in our countries, while we continue to force our own governments to keep fossil fuels in the ground and ensure a just transition for workers.”

Angela Adrar, Climate Justice Alliance USA: “The Climate Justice Alliance has historically struggled to assure that Indigenous people, women, human rights and a Just Transition are at the forefront of international climate agreements. The shortcomings of the Paris Accord – and Trump’s erroneous and embarrassing decision to withdraw the U.S. from the agreement – proves more than ever that communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis are the ones to lead us toward a renewable and regenerative future. We will continue to organize for climate justice and stand in solidarity with our international allies who are fighting for survival, resisting extraction, and creating solutions from the ground up.”

Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, member of the Advisory Council on Global Change for the German government, and chair of the High Level Panel on Decarbonisation Pathways for the European Commission: “It will not substantially hamper global climate progress if the USA really quit the Paris Agreement, but it will hurt the American economy and society alike. China and Europe have become world leaders on the path towards green development already and will strengthen their position if the US slips back at the national level.  Innovative states such as California, the world’s sixth largest economy, will keep going for climate action, however. The Washington people around Trump hide in the trenches of the past instead of building the future. They fail to recognize that the climate wars are over, while the race for sustainable prosperity is on.”

Paul Shrivastava, Chief Sustainability Officer, Penn State University, and Director, Sustainability Institute, USA, former Executive Director of Future Earth: “As one of the largest producers of greenhouse gases in the world, the U.S. has moral and strategic responsibility to lead the world towards a low-carbon global economy by vigorously implementing the Paris Agreement. Such leadership offers the added advantage of making the U.S. economy and companies more energy and carbon efficient, and consequently more competitive.”

Rob Jackson, Stanford University, USA, Chair of the Scientific Steering Committee of the Global Carbon Project: “Scrapping the Paris agreement is myopic and hurts more than the environment. It undercuts U.S. leadership and will make our products harder to sell in the global market. A low-carbon world is creating jobs, improving air and water quality and saving lives.”

Josh Tewksbury, Director of the Colorado Global Hub of Future Earth, University of Colorado Boulder and Colorado State University, USA: “In the Paris Agreement, the United States has committed to a series of actions that will stimulate the fastest growing sectors of our economy, reduce the need for burdensome regulation and give us a leadership role in defining the future. The United States has always been a nation that leads by example. We should continue on this path and will be a stronger nation because of it.”

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Wendy Broadgate, Director of the Sweden Global Hub of Future Earth: “Climate change affects everyone, including the American people. The facts are clear: Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris agreement attempts to threaten global cooperation but will not stop the transition already underway. It will instead isolate the U.S. from the enormous growth in business opportunities that will come from decarbonizing our economies.”

Susanne Moser, Director of Susanne Moser Research & Consulting, Social Science Research Fellow at Stanford University’s Woods Institute for the Environment, USA: “Trump supporters voted for an America that is a great place to live, to raise a family, to find meaningful work and see one’s grandchildren have a better future. They did not vote to have floods wash away their dreams, droughts wither their livelihoods, wildfires to make their homes go up in smoke, rising seas inundate their communities and dirty air give their children asthma. Their legitimate needs and hopeful desires are being misused, not to make America great again, but to make America – and everyone else – suffer greatly.”

Robert Richmond, University of Hawaii at Manoa, USA: “Anything short of full engagement with and support for the Paris Agreement and the UNFCCC by the United States would be ultimately damaging to our economy and the quality of life of all who inhabit the earth. The impacts of failed U.S. leadership on climate change would range from declines in agriculture and food security to losses in coastal protection and fisheries, and would place a terrible burden on our children and future generations who would pay a very high price for such a short-sighted response to a problem for which the science is clear. It’s time many of our elected officials replaced a false ideology with a strong dose of reality.”

Robert Kopp, Rutgers University, USA: “Every ton of carbon dioxide we emit moves the global thermostat up a notch, posing increasing risks to human health and welfare. In order to stabilize the climate, we must meet the Paris Agreement’s goal of bringing net greenhouse gas emissions to zero in the second half of this century. Paris’ framework of bottom-up national commitments, ratcheting up over time, is an important path toward this goal, and it is foolish for the U.S. to cede its leadership role in this framework to China and Europe.”

Frank Biermann, Utrecht University, the Netherlands, Chair of the Earth System Governance Project, a global research project of Future Earth: “The bottom line of global warming is clear: No country is an island. Walls don’t help. Ignorance is no solution. If the United States withdraws from global climate collaboration, all other nations need to collectively protect our common future.”

Karen O’Brien, University of Oslo, Norway: “The potential U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement is a threat to human security. Yes, national security is a concern for some, but human security is a concern for all. Global sustainability is critical to both national and human security – and so are continued interactions between science and policy through the Paris Agreement.”

Melissa Leach, Director of the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex, UK: “America has long been a fount of great scientific ideas, advances and innovations, contributing to progress in its own economy and in the world. It has led in tackling some of the major challenges of our day. But these values and this position on the world stage are deeply threatened by new waves of policy to deny and hide scientific evidence, such as around climate change, and to shirk global leadership on the climate change challenge. If President Trump turns America from a welcoming to a hostile place for science and life and planet saving policy, everyone will lose.”

Chidi Osuagwu, Federal University of Technology Owerri, Nigeria: “Nations can do the best they can to secure their borders and uplift their economies. Climate change and environmental disasters recognize neither borders, nor respect mighty economies.”

Asher Minns, head of communication for Future Earth Europe, University of East Anglia, UK: “The U.S. will be missed from the rest of the world’s battle against climate change. Withdrawing from the world seems to me un-American and disadvantages its own people, current and future jobs and health, especially if withdrawing goes hand-in-glove with a renewed U.S. quest for coal.”

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