Denial

By: Brian L.

‘We don’t want other leaders and other countries laughing at us anymore and they won’t be.’ said President Trump in a speech given in the Rose Garden on Thursday, announcing that the United States will withdraw from the historic Paris climate accord, and he was right. Instead of laughing, the rest of the world was either furious or filled with dismay at the latest controversial decision made by the President.

This act fulfils a key campaign promise that Trump made last year as a candidate, when he vowed to to ‘cancel’ the agreement, but at the cost of severely dampening the combined global efforts of the 195 nations that signed on the agreement, made in 2015. The decision was made with Trump denying and disregarding the efforts by foreign leaders(43rd G7 summit in Siciliy), corporate executives(signed letter run as a full-page ad in WSJ and NYTimes) members of his own staff(Rex Tillerson and Gary Cohn), and even his own daughter, Ivanka, to convince him to remain in the deal as a part. In the end, the voices of the anti-Paris advocates, prominent among them being chief strategist Steve Bannon and EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, as the President’s remarks in the speech on Thursday reflected the nationalist and ‘America First’ viewpoints favoured by them.

In his speech, he stated that the deal imposed wildly unfair environmental standards on American businesses. He declared that he would stand with the people of the United States against what he called a ‘draconian’ international deal. Trump declared that his announcement would end the implementation of carbon reduction targets set under the Obama administration, which aimed to reduce carbon emissions by 26-28% in a decade. Trump also asserted that the US would stall all contributions to the United Nations’ Green Climate Fund, which Trump said was ‘costing the United States a fortune.’ He later stated that he wanted to negotiate for a better deal(US carbon reduction commitments)for the United States, but in a joint statement released afterwards by the French, Italian, and German leaders strongly indicated that the US could not renegotiate the agreement.

After the announcement, the castigation that followed was swift and heavy. President Emmanuel Macron of France and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada each issued rebukes to Mr. Trump. ‘Make our planet great again,’ Mr. Macron said. Miguel Arias Cañete, the European Union’s commissioner for climate, said on twitter that ‘today’s announcement has galvanized us rather than weakened us, and this vacuum will be filled by new broad committed leadership.’ Even Mr. Obama, in a rare comment expressing his political views on the current events, said, ‘The nations that remain in the Paris agreement will be the nations that reap the benefits in jobs and industries created.’ and also that ‘even in the absence of American leadership; even as this administration joins a small handful of nations that reject the future; I’m confident that our states, cities, and businesses will step up and do even more to lead the way, and help protect for future generations the one planet we’ve got,’

Another repercussion resulting from the announcement was the abdication of Elon Musk, from two of the President’s business advisory councils. Musk had vowed to step down from the advisory councils if the President decided to pull United States out of the Paris agreement. He was one of the 18 members of Trump’s chief business advisory council, also known as the Strategic and Policy Forum. He also advised the president on the president’s manufacturing jobs initiative. Musk announced his leave through Twitter, saying ‘Am departing presidential councils. Climate change is real. Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world’ on Thursday, shortly after the announcement was made by the President. Even though Elon Musk staunchly disagreed with the President on many political decisions, such as the executive order issued in January that banned the travel from seven Muslim-majority nations temporarily, he determinedly remained on the president’s advisory councils, defending his decision despite the criticism, saying that the decision had nothing to do with his opinion on the Trump administration. He said, ‘Advisory councils simply provide advice, and attending does not mean that I agree with actions by the Administration’, posted on Twitter around the time when the Uber CEO Travis Kalanick departed the councils. This decision to leave is a gutsy move from the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, and the chairman of SolarCity, who repeatedly voiced concern about climate change and its potential impacts.

Uncertainty and anxiety looms over America and the rest of the world at the controversial decision by the President, as voices of concern and anger at the degree of absurdity and idiocy, as well as the ignorance of this decision, are rising from out and within. Meanwhile, it is worth noting that even North Korea has signed the Paris Climate Agreement, and China, the world’s largest carbon emitter, has declared to stick by its commitments to the Paris agreement, despite the decision by the US.

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