An orange cloud looms over the future of the world’s climate, US backs out of Paris Agreement


On Thursday, the President of the United States, Donald Trump fulfilled the first of his election promises. In a move opposed uniformly by entities across the globe, President Trump pulled out of the Paris Climate agreement. Stating his decision as a move to protect America and its citizens, Trump stated a possible re-entry on new terms or an entirely new agreement that would guarantee a level playing field for American citizens and businesses. In typical Trumpian style, the President went on to frame this as a nationalist move while quoting conveniently supporting statistics.

“Beyond the severe energy restrictions inflicted by the Paris Accord, it includes yet another scheme to redistribute wealth out of the United States through so-called Green Climate Fund,” Trump complained in his speech on Thursday.

Unsurprisingly, the President seemed to have mixed up two different elements of the Paris Agreement. In a broad pledge, the Paris agreement aims to eventually raise $100 billion a year globally in aid by 2020 to help developing countries like India transition to cleaner energy sources. The green climate fund is a part of this funding initiative. Indeed, the United States promised a contribution of $3 billion by 2020 under President Barack Obama. In contrast to the $1 billion already contributed by the United States, which Trump pointed out as “costing a vast fortune”, Trump recently proposed a $54 billion defense spending hike earlier this year. A figure that is not far from the entire Russian military budget for 2016 of $65.8 billion.

Making scapegoats of India and China, Trump repeatedly attacked the Clean Power Plan as placing undue economic restrictions on the United States even as these countries got opportunities as well as aid under the Paris agreement.

This turn of events has put American leadership on key environmental issues under jeopardy. Even as traditional entities like the Vatican come forward to condemn this move, the President has taken a decision that has been termed a “historic mistake” by many including Former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. Even as this story develops, there is a silver lining in the cloud. Mayors and Governors across the United States vow to stick with the Paris accord.

This is the second time the United States has failed to ratify a major climate deal and the situation draws parallels with the Kyoto Protocol. Many leaders cite the departure of the United States as one of the reasons for its lack of impact. In a positive turn of events, Germany and China have come forward to take up key leadership positions. Leaders from both countries have vowed to strengthen their commitment to the Paris agreement.

With polls indicating a positive response from the Republican base, the move seems unlikely to change in the immediate future.

Find a full transcript of the President’s speech here.