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Gina-Marie Cheeseman headshot

Trump Can’t Derail Paris Climate Agreement


Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump says he would renegotiate the U.N. global climate deal, or at least America’s role in it.

“I will be looking at that very, very seriously, and at a minimum I will be renegotiating those agreements, at a minimum. And at a maximum I may do something else,” Trump told Reuters earlier this month. "But those agreements are one-sided agreements and they are bad for the United States."

"Not a big fan because other countries don’t adhere to it, and China doesn’t adhere to it, and China’s spewing into the atmosphere," he continued.

The climate agreement, signed by representatives from 175 countries in April, seeks to keep global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius. Both the Obama administration and China made big pledges. The U.S. pledged to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 26 to 28 percent by 2025 from 2005 levels, while China pledged to stop increases in carbon emissions by 2030.

Reuters pronounced that a pull-out by the U.S., the world’s second largest GHG emitter, “would hobble the deal reached in Paris last December.” But British climate change expert Tom Burke disagrees, as he told Climate News Network. Burke, who formerly headed Friends of the Earth U.K. and now serves as chairman of the environmental group E3G, called Trump’s statements a “vacuous piece of posturing.” To Burke, Trump’s claims that he would renegotiate the climate deal are just “a message to his potential supporters on the political right.”

“Who would he renegotiate the Agreement with? He can’t renegotiate on his own, and the rest of the world is moving on,” Burke said. “Trump can repudiate the Agreement, but it won’t make a scrap of difference to the rest of the world.”

Burke suggested that Trump “can do what George W. Bush did when he was president: He can withdraw the U.S. from its obligations, as Bush did with the Kyoto Protocol." He added that “Trump can repudiate the Agreement, but it won’t make a scrap of difference to the rest of the world.” The reason is that the drive toward a low-carbon economy is "being propelled, not by law, not by constraints, but by opportunity,” Burke said.

Trump protects his own property from climate change effects

Trump has referred to climate change as a “total hoax,” “bullshit” and “pseudoscience." Meanwhile, he wants to construct a sea wall to protect a Trump International golf resort in County Clare, Ireland, from “global warming and its effects,” Politico reported.

Politico points out the irony of Trump making disparaging comments publicly about climate change while seeking to protect one of his properties from its impacts. “His public disavowal of climate science at the same time he moves to secure his own holdings against the effects of climate change also illustrates the conflict between his political rhetoric and the realities of running a business with seaside assets in the 21st century,” Politico reporter Ben Schreckinger wrote on Monday.

Former South Carolina congressional member, Rep. Bob Inglis, a Republican, called Trump’s hypocrisy on climate change “diabolical.” He said Trump “is working to ensure his at-risk properties and his company is trying to figure out how to deal with sea level rise.” He pointed out that “it’s conceivable that he might swing around on this.” And the reason why is that “it would be a smart political move for him or for anyone because that’s where the public’s already going.”

And that is where businesses are going too. A 2016 PwC survey found that, out of 1,409 CEOs surveyed in 83 countries, half think climate change is a threat to their businesses' growth prospects. Clearly, Trump agrees with the CEOs surveyed, as his application for a seawall to protect his Irish resort shows, although he won't cop to it publicly.

Image credit: Flickr/Gage Skidmore

Gina-Marie Cheeseman headshot

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.

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