Published on 07 June 2018


A year ago, Donald Trump left the Paris agreement... And mobilised the world around climate

As announced during his campaign, Donald Trump kept his promise. A few months after arriving to the White House, the US President announced American departure from the Paris Agreement. A decision that did not have a snowball effect. On the contrary, his decision has even mobilised actors within the United States and beyond.

On 1 June 2017, Donald Trump announced the US withdrawal from the Agreement

On 1 June 2017, US President Donald Trump announced American withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, which aims to keep warming below 2°C by the end of the century. According to the White House resident, this agreement is harmful to the national economy and benefits, above all, China, which is according to him, the origin behind the climate change “lie”.

The withdrawal of the world's leading economic power, and the world's second largest emitter of CO², was a cataclysm. Especially since the Administration has actively pushed the revival of coal and has limited support for renewable and revised budgets dedicated to climate research. The effective withdrawal of the United States from the international provision will take place in November 2020.

Internal mobilisation

But resistance against the White House is an organised one. Among the most important resistance groups is "We are still in". This group of 125 cities, 9 states, 902 companies and 183 universities are working to ensure that the United States meets its emission reduction commitments by 26 to 28% by 2030, compared to 2005 figures, as was promised before COP21.

Opposition to Donald Trump is embodied by two emblematic figures. On the one hand, California Governor Jerry Brown is massively promoting renewable energies and is organising a climate summit next September.

On the other hand, Michael[KH2]  Bloomberg is working to align finance with climate objectives. With a bit of flair, he even donated a small portion of the funds promised by the United States from his own pocket, to support the UN on global warming. Finally, we must count on the mobilisation of large US companies that are committed to greening their energy supply and aligning their strategy to climate science, such as Apple and McDonald's.

The United States in isolation

Outside the borders, there was fear of a domino effect. The absence of the United States could have pushed other countries to abandon their commitments in reducing CO² emissions. On the contrary, ratifications have continued to such an extent that even Syria and Nicaragua have joined the movement, leaving the United States isolated.

We must give credit to French President Emmanuel Macron who, on 2 June, in the wake of the American withdrawal, launched his famous "Make our Planet [KH3] Great Again", which was a real challenge to Trump's campaign slogan, "Make American Great Again". He called on the world, and especially the G20, to mobilise around global warming, bringing together a hundred nations in Paris on 12 December at the One Planet Summit. A summit dedicated to financing the fight against global warming.

Chinese divergence

The return of the United States to the climate table, however, remains essential. In 2015, the presence of Barack Obama and his chief negotiator, Todd Stern, at COP21 weighed heavily in mobilising world leaders. But vigilance about Washington's future attitude is not enough. While eyes were turned toward American diplomacy, a huge divergence went unnoticed in 2017: that of China, which claimed to take over environmental leadership.

Indeed, according to Greenpeace's "Unearthed" magazine, Beijing is seeing its greenhouse gas emissions rise again, where they had stagnated in recent years. In 2018, they will grow by 4%. In 2017, they had already jumped by 2%. More so than Washington, the real danger might be that Beijing left the Paris Agreement... but without saying so.

Ludovic Dupin, @LudovicDupin



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