The Rose Garden, a normally beautiful part of the White House in Washington DC, was the sunny scene for a thorny message yesterday. President Donald Trump made it his “solemn duty” to withdraw the United States of America from the Paris Agreement.
He was keeping one of his promises from his electioneering last year so it came as little surprise to many onlookers. It was, nevertheless, a speech that has echoed audaciously across the world and staggered many for its lack of global leadership. All politicians want to build their economy and create jobs. People have to come first, granted. But economics cannot, and must not, be treated in isolation from the environment. We have to build it all for us to prosper sustainably now and allow the same for our future generations.
Climate change is real and present and the Paris Agreement is one of the most critically important ways forward for nations of the world to create their own action plans that collectively can address one of the world’s most pressing threats to people.
Trump’s words mean that the USA will progress now through a lengthy process to withdraw. It will likely take just as long as this man is in office: four years. His words will not though deter many Americans from continuing their actions. Several States (California, Washington, New York) immediately reacted against them. Cities across the world, including the USA, will continue their programs to use fossil fuel energy more efficiently, introduce more renewable energy and help create jobs doing just that. Companies too, including the likes of General Electric and Shell have expressed their continued support for the Paris Agreement. Even America’s biggest oil company, Exxon, publicly stated earlier this year that it believes the Paris agreement is an “effective framework for addressing the risks of climate change.”
That company’s former boss, Rex Tillerson, now as Secretary of State, was not in the Rose Garden for his president’s speech. Maybe he was using his time more productively to work out how to restore relations with other world leaders in China, the European Union and elsewhere. They have made their voices very clear that Trump is wrong, climate change is real and deserves global leadership now. For the prosperity of the people and the planet.