During one of the most – if not the most – violent electoral campaign in the history of the United States, the now president-elect Donald Trump has been extremely harsh on the Paris agreement and on climate change in general. How could his presidency affect the agreement?
The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP22) opened in Marrakech, Morocco during the same week as the US elections. One of its goals? To finalise the Paris Agreement on climate change whose purpose is to limit the global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius.
The Paris Agreement was the first legally binding climate deal, it was adopted by 195 countries in December 2015 during the Paris climate conference (COP21). In order to enter into force, it needed the ratification of at least 55 countries representing at least 55% of global emissions. Through its ratification on October 5th, the European Union enabled the agreement to go into force. So it seems everything was running quite smoothly for the Paris Agreement, which had been described by France’s former Foreign affairs Minister Laurent Fabius as a “historic turning point”. But that was before the American people chose to elect a man who has expressly said he wanted to remove the United States from the treaty.
Donald Trump is a well-known climate sceptic: he has rejected any scientific evidence and made it abundantly clear during his electoral campaign that he wanted to dismantle the Paris agreement. In 2012, he tweeted that “the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive”. Basically, climate change is a hoax which is bad for the economy. He later on declared that this was a joke but it still doesn’t paint him as a particularly environment-friendly person.
Since the elections, many heads of state such as French president François Hollande have reminded Donald Trump that he needed to respect the commitments taken by his country. The United Nations have also expressed the need for Donald Trump to support the fight against climate change. The European Union voiced its concerns as well. In a congratulations letter after Donald Trump’s victory, Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, mentioned climate change as one of the “unprecedented challenges” the European Union and the United States would have to work on.
Furthermore, the outgoing President of the United States Barack Obama is working for his part on convincing the president-elect not to give up on the Paris agreement. Environmental issues have been important during Obama’s presidency and he likely doesn’t wish for his legacy to be shattered. He namely declared during a press conference regarding international agreements that “the tradition has been that you carry them forward across administrations”. Thus he invited Donald Trump to do the same for the Paris Agreement.
Since his election, Donald Trump has already backed down on numerous subjects – including his project for a “great wall” between the U.S and Mexico, which now could just be a fence “in certain areas” or concerning Obamacare, which could go from abolished to amended.
So let’s just hope he does the same regarding environmental issues.
In any case, UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon declared during the COP22 that the action to fight climate change has become “unstoppable”, whether Donald Trump likes it or not.