There are certain exaggerations in the discussion around climate that can withstand some skepticism. But an American government that considers climate protection to be moral terrorism has lost any authority. The one which profits is China.

One can assume that impassioned criticism from home and abroad of his decision to formally begin withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement does not particularly affect President Donald Trump. With the withdrawal, he fulfills a campaign promise, and many of his voters will be impressed. But voters already bought in three years ago when he claimed that the reversal in energy and climate policies would bring great prosperity in the future. Trump insisted that climate protection measures, which were reached internationally, excessively burdened the American economy. He does not think much of scientific conclusions about the factors behind climate change, anyway. But future generations will have to bear the costs of his self-satisfied and foolish refusal of reasonable climate protection policies; the consequences of climate change can already be felt and seen right now.

Withdrawing from multilateral cooperation agreements, whether now concerning the climate or the nuclear conflict with Iran, does not make the United States stronger, no matter what he tries to tell the people. Some may find it great to be alone in the world (though potential believers have yet to be found). But can self-awareness really be generated from that? America is no longer prepared to lead firmly and reliably. This entails a serious change for the world when the biggest economic and military power chooses a path of insularity. It inevitably relativizes the value and use of international agreements.

When Trump turned his back on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement on trade the moment he took office, it was a nice victory for China, one for which it had needed to do nothing. Trump’s climate policies are having the same effect: they make countries that are allied with America into key partners for China. Collaboration with Beijing on climate protection and biodiversity are now that much more urgent, said France’s President Emmanuel Macron. And that is what will happen. The climate discussion certainly can withstand some skepticism. But an American government that considers climate protection to be a form of moral terrorism has lost any authority in this debate. Only the voters can correct this.