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Global leaders hold fast to Paris Accord despite US exit

Political and corporate leaders are re-affirming their commitment to the Paris Accord, despite the decision by the US government to pull out of the agreement last week.

Explaining the US position, Donald Trump said his country was not fairly treated in the initial document as it was being asked for more than other big emitters like China and India.
Trump surrounded by European leaders during visit
He offered to re-negotiate the agreement to facilitate a more favourable framework for the US, a move that didn’t appear to be entertained by his peers.

Chinese premier Li Keqiang joined with EU leaders to say that combating climate change is “more important than ever”. Li pledged that China would not shirk its “international responsibility” and would work with the EU to uphold the Paris Agreement.

“The decision of the US President to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement is extremely regrettable, and I’m expressing myself inà‚ very restrained terms,” the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel said in Berlin. “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.”

Ms Merkel emphasised Germany’s continued commitment to the historic accords, which she called a “cornerstone” of efforts to protect “creation”.

She said there was no turning back from the path that began with the 1997 Kyoto protocol and ” until Thursday night ” had the consent of almost every country in the world.

“We will combine our forces more resolutely than ever…to address and tackle big challenges for humanity such as climate change,” Ms Merkel added. “This can’t and won’t stop all those of us who feel obliged to protect the planet”.

The White House said that Trump had emphasised that the US is committed to “robust efforts to protect the environment”, when speaking to the leaders of Canada, the UK and France over the phone, after the announcement was made.

Theresa May was heavily criticised for not joining the statement, but Downing Street said she had “expressed her disappointment” personally to the President during the phone call.

“The Prime Minister stressed that the UK remained committed to the Paris Agreement, as she set out recently at the G7,” a spokesperson said. “She said it provides the right global framework for protecting the prosperity and security of future generations, while keeping energy affordable and secure for our citizens and businesses.”

Emmanuel Macron, the new French President, said the Paris Agreement was “irreversible” and launched an appeal for global cooperation in English.

Mr Trump claimed the Paris deal allows countries such as China and India to carry on polluting while the US economy is harmed, complaining it is “less about the climate and more about other countries obtaining a financial advantage over the US”. We don’t want other countries laughing at us anymore, and they won’t.”

The President claimed the US could re-enter “an entirely new transaction” but added, “If we can, great. If we can’t, that’s fine.”à‚ 

The mayors of New York and many of America’s largest cities pledged to uphold the Paris Agreement locally, even without federal support.

Former President Barack Obama said Mr Trump had “rejected the future” but states, businesses and other nations would lead the way to protect future generations.

Lloyd Blankfein, chief executive of Goldman Sachs, called the decision “a setback for the environment and for the US’s leadership position in the world”.

Scientists say Earth is likely to reach more dangerous levels of warming sooner as a result of the President’s decision because as the world’s second-largest emitter of carbon dioxide, it contributes significantly to rising temperatures.

However that opinion is not universally held.

Greenhouse gas emissions have been decreasing in the US thanks to the country’s shale gas revolution making coal power uneconomical. Meanwhile emissions are continuing to fall in China as the country comes to end of its developmental phase.

In his Abacus column on Monday, the South China Morning Post’s Tom Holland writes, “In a nutshell, the emissions targets proclaimed in the Paris Agreement simply reflected reductions that were already happening, and would happen anyway, because of deeper economic forces. That means Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris accord will have little effect on either emissions or the world’s climate.”