What is the motive behind Trump’s withdrawal from climate change accord?
When the U.S. president declared he would withdraw his country from the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, he triggered a worldwide discussion on the issue. For Europe it was a “major disappointment,” while similar assessments came from the U.N. secretary general, China, India and others.
The one from Fiji’s prime minister was perhaps the most pertinent one, as this Pacific country feels under serious threat due to rising sea levels due to global warming. He said that not only was his island nation at risk but also U.S. coastal states like New York and Miami were vulnerable.
Donald Trump’s argument to withdraw from the Climate Change Agreement is unscientific. He believes that with the Paris Agreement United States would end up with serious job loss, heavy financial burden and disadvantages in global technological competition. But his main rhetoric was basically built on the anti-Obama rhetoric that he capitalized on during his election campaign, arguing that he would “make America great again.”
French President Emmanuel Macron, representing the view of the “old continent,” made a visionary, elegant and responsible statement in expressing his disappointment. Pointing out to the risk that climate change could lead to worldwide migrations, shortages and wars, he offered France as a “second homeland” for U.S. climate scientists to come and work together with their French colleagues “to make our planet great again.”
Is it possible to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on Climate Change or to renegotiate its terms to the liking of President Trump? There is a provision for withdrawal in the Agreement. Accordingly, any signatory party may give notice of withdrawal at any time, but this can be put into implementation only after the Agreement has been in force for three years for that party. The withdrawal then becomes effective after one year.
For the U.S., the Paris Agreement entered into force on November 2016. The one-year period for withdrawal, therefore, can only start in November 2019. If the one year period for withdrawal is added, the earliest date that the U.S. can leave the Agreement is November 2020. This is another reason why European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has been repeatedly underlining that withdrawal of a signatory party from the Paris Agreement can take at least three to four years.
Trump also mentioned his intention to renegotiate the agreement to obtain better and more favorable conditions for the United States. This possibility has been flatly rejected by Italy, France and Germany. The EU has a very strict and legalistic approach when it comes to multilateral agreements. This has been the attitude of Brussels in terms of the Brexit process and its response to America’s intended withdrawal process from the Paris Agreement on Climate Change will not be any different.
The main reason behind the Trump move is seen by many as part of the struggle between the fossil fuel industry and the renewable energy industry. Republican Senators who wrote a letter to President Trump and urged him to withdraw from the Paris Agreement are said to be individuals who profit from the continued use of coal, natural gas and oil for energy production.
There is also, however, a serious reaction from many American industrialists who believe that climate change is real and that the U.S. should continue to take the initiative to develop the necessary technological innovation in order to cope with it. This is the American business who Trump tries to protect through withdrawal from the global Pact on Climate Change. Their argument, contrary to those of their president, is that the Agreement will not end with a loss of jobs but on the contrary will open new opportunities and boost the U.S. economy by enhancing its leading role.
The muteness in Turkey on this global discussion raises serious concerns. Having signed the Paris Agreement, Ankara has been quite reticent in its ratification, avoiding its entry into force. Much scientific research, however, points to forecasts that Turkey will be one of the countries seriously affected by further climate change. Turkey, meanwhile, continues to choose to be mainly dependent on fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas in energy production.
Climate change is not a controversial issue. It is real and it endangers the future of our planet. The main controversy is how to look at the security of future generations. If you care for them, you must take the necessary measures to protect them.