Words Bassam Alkantar
In December 2015, after years of negotiations, 195 countries made a new commitment to work together to address global climate change. This landmark agreement, signed in Paris, was seen as a turning point for global climate policy, and it came into force on November 4, 2016. As of June 2017, 195 UNFCCC (The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) members had signed the agreement, and 148 had ratified it.
As eager as President Trump seemed to be to denounce and bolt from the Paris Agreement, he also appeared eager to project a willingness to re-engage. Three times during his speech in the Rose Garden, he declared an openness to renegotiating the landmark climate agreement or negotiating a new deal “that’s fair.” It’s hardly clear what the president might have had in mind, but let’s consider some of the options.
First, it’s far-fetched to think that other countries are so desperate for the U.S. to stay in that they’re going to discard the Paris Agreement. The agreement is a sensible approach to an urgent challenge. It has been universally embraced – and universally reaffirmed — despite Trump’s skepticism.
As far as the implementation of the Paris Agreement is concerned, we remain optimistic, because 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. German Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks said with regard to President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement: “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.”
As France, Germany, and Italy made clear within hours of the president’s speech, the basic terms of the agreement are not open for renegotiation. The Paris Agreement is critical for the future of our planet. It provides a strong framework for taking ambitious action to mitigate climate change, and to help people and ecosystems across the globe to adapt to its impacts. The Paris Agreement, adopted by almost 200 countries, is too robust to be broken by any one nation. Country after country – both developed and developing – has reaffirmed its commitment to implementing the agreement. Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement will not stop global action on climate change.
As global temperatures continue to rise, severe floods, droughts, and super storms are becoming more and more commonplace. It is the most vulnerable people who are hit first. The poorest countries will be affected twice more: first by the U.S.’s unwillingness to curb U.S. carbon emissions, and then by a planned decrease in climate financing to support people in adapting to the impacts of climate change and in making a transition to clean energy for poor countries.
The implementation of the Paris Agreement is the only way for the human family to protect itself from the threat of global warming. Our children and grandchildren risk being the losers as a result of Trump’s misguided decision.