The Planet Can’t Wait for Trump

The great paradox is that the president of the U.S. is going to seriously damage the interests of his own country by withdrawing from the climate agreement.

This time the world is not going to wait for the United States. Now, when the impact of climate change is most visible, is not the time to stop. Although Trump wants to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, the international community is going to continue moving forward. This, and nothing else, was the consensus of the summit held in Marrakech shortly after the election of Donald Trump. That meeting was marked by the impact of the election, but in contrast to previous occasions, the unanimous reaction was that the Paris Climate Agreement would have to continue moving forward in order to stop climate change, regardless of who sits in the Oval Office.

The main damage caused by Trump’s decision affects the United States, its companies and energy sector, which could see themselves excluded from a global technological movement that is driving changes to the energy model. Therefore, it’s not by chance that there has been an internal rebellion led on this occasion by American companies, and not by ecological organizations, worried about the impact on their businesses. The great paradox is that Trump, who coined the phrase, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing noncompetitive” is going to seriously damage the interests of his own country by withdrawing from the climate agreement.

The United States is the most influential negotiator in climate change summits. Since 1992 in Rio de Janeiro, heads of state from all over the world have agreed on the necessity of facing up to man-made climate change, and the U.S. has been a part of the entire negotiation process. Perhaps it is because of this that the fight against climate change has not been very effective: Over the years Washington has put a lot of sticks in the wheels.

When the Kyoto Protocol was signed in 1997, Al Gore, then vice president and now a significant figure in the fight against climate change, did not achieve its ratification. Nonetheless, in this negotiation, the European Union did play a leading role that made it possible for Kyoto to go ahead. Trump’s withdrawal could mean an opportunity for Europe, which could take back the environmental leadership that it lost with the unsuccessful Copenhagen Summit.

After the failure of Copenhagen, Paris did manage to get the international community to agree on a promise to reduce emissions. The United States’ presence at the agreement was one of the reasons for optimism: For the first time, it seemed to unconditionally join the global pact.

Remember that the United States, for many years, has been the most contaminating country in the world. With an economy based on fossil fuels, only China’s runaway growth, propelled by coal, caused it to lose this dubious honor.

Environmental, economic and social motives are giving rise to changes to the energy model and the progress seems unstoppable. This explains North American companies’ unease at Trump’s decision. The withdrawal from Paris by the U.S. is bad news for the planet, but on this occasion, the international community has said loud and clearly that the change to the model is irreversible. The world is not going to stop so that Trump can get off; but if he wants to do so, inertia will slam into him.

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