By opting out of Paris climate agreement Trump has successfully dented America

While Trump might carry Washington and his ultra-right constituencies with him, the country doesn’t seem to support his decision, not even his daughter Ivanka.

 |  4-minute read |   14-06-2017
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It took the erstwhile Soviet Union two decades to lose its superpower status and eventually collapse. But US President Donald Trump has done the unthinkable in less than four months when he abandoned America’s leadership role by withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement. While by opting to exit, Trump has fulfilled his electoral promise, his decision will, in the long run, harm the US’s national interests and hasten the process of its eclipse as the world leader.

Reasons

His stated reasons to exit —closure of factories, loss of jobs, and dilution of sovereignty and unfair treatment of the US— are not borne out by facts. Nine governors, eight mayors and several CEOs and celebrities in the US didn’t applaud Trump’s short-sighted decision. Former Vice-President Al Gore called it “a reckless and indefensible action”, which will “undermine America’s standing in the world”. The CEO of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein, echoed similar sentiments: “The decision is a setback for the environment and for the US leadership position in the world.”

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook wasn’t far behind, saying the “decision to withdraw from the Paris agreement was wrong for our planet”. Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio was scathing when he said that “the future of our planet was threatened by President Trump’s careless decision”. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, went a step further when he resigned from the President’s Economic Council.

trump-paris_061417100037.jpgPhoto: Mail Today

While the former mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, was resolute in his denunciation, Jerry Brown, Governor of California, sixth largest economy in the world, has gone ahead and signed an agreement with China to reduce carbon emission. Thus, while Trump, who had once called the climate change agreement as a “hoax”, might carry Washington and his ultra-right constituencies with him, the country doesn’t seem to support his decision, not even his daughter Ivanka!

At Paris, it wasn’t the US alone that shed a bit of the sovereignty; other 193 nations too did the same. In fact, the biggest polluter in the world with annual per capita CO2 emission of 16.5 tonnes was treated lightly as the principle of historic responsibility was given a go by. Obviously, the US commitment to reduce carbon emission by 26-28 per cent of the 2005 level by 2025 might have rattled Trump.

Action

While the German Chancellor felt that “the US was harming itself and the world” and vowed that Germany, Europe and other countries would stick together and take more decisive action, newly elected French President Macron stressed, “We will not renegotiate a less ambitious accord.” Many experts believe, “The world’s efforts of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius will receive a severe jolt” from Trump’s bouncer. While CSE expert Chandra Bhushan thinks that without America’s active contribution, “any action to combat climate change will be insufficient by a huge margin”, its director general, Sunita Narain, is more pessimistic. “Trump has sounded the death knell for the Paris Accord,” she says.

Though America’s exit offers an opportunity to China, India and the EU to take the lead on climate change, if the world’s biggest polluter continues to pollute, how will the environment be protected?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj have claimed that India didn’t sign the Paris agreement under pressure from any source, nor was it lured by offer of funds. According to them, India stands for the protection of environment as it conforms with its centuries old commitment to live in harmony with nature. The Modi government, pursuing its ambitious plan to produce 100GW electricity from renewable sources, remains committed to reduce carbon emission as indicated in the Paris agreement.

Terrorism

Trump and Modi have spoken on phone thrice. Trump’s mention of India as a victim of terrorism in Riyad was welcomed in India. But his reference to India in a rather unflattering manner while announcing his withdrawal from the Paris agreement has created some negativity before the two leaders meet in Washington later this month. Contrary to Trump’s claims India received only $100 million (not billions) in aid in2015; this amount is scheduled to come down to measly $34 million in 2018.

Trump should stop blaming India. Multi-layered & multidimensional strategic relations between India and the US must not be allowed to suffer on account of differences on climate change or H1B visas. India’s top seven IT companies reportedly got only 9,356 new H1B visas in 2016. For the India-US relations, Modi and Trump must hit off well.

(Courtesy of Mail Today.)

Also read: Tale of two dissenters - Bezwada Wilson and TM Krishna

Writer

Surendra Kumar Surendra Kumar @ambksurendra

The writer is a retired diplomat and expert on strategic affairs.

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