U.S. climate policy doesn’t depend on Trump

Donald Trump fulfilled one of his campaign’s promises and withdrew from the Paris Agreement. Despite his decision, United States mayors and businessmen will carry on with climate policy.

For anyone that followed Donald Trump’s campaign, it’s no surprise he withdrew the United States from the Paris climate accord. According to the US president, the accord not only was unfair with the American economy, but it also limited the country’s actions. Since the accord is “non-binding” –as media have highlighted–, all of Trump’s statements are, by principle, inaccurate.

Beyond the announcement of the withdrawal –which was met with an outcry and countless criticism–, Trump’s decision could have less of a negative impact than expected. Environmentally, Trump’s statement has promoted a strong response not only from the public, but also from American mayors, governors, scientists and businesses. Most of them, despite the decision taken by the U.S. president, have reiterated their intention to carry on with climate change policies and, even more, to take them further.

The mayors of, at least, 30 cities and the governors of three states are on their way to form a separate alliance committed to the Paris climate agreement. This alliance would replace the former commitment of America, so, environmentally speaking, Trump’s decision could have less of a negative impact than people think.

Evidently, not having the United States on the same page as the other 194 countries is dangerous and could harm the commitment of other nations. As Eliza Barclay, analyst at Vox, stated: “[…] it could erode other countries’ motivation to push hard for emissions reductions”. Even if the U.S. local governments maintain a strong support on climate change policies, the damage on the accord has already been done.

Economically, Trump completely missed the point. He said that the agreement went against the interests of the North American nation and that it benefited other countries, like China. However, as American corporations respond to the withdrawal and analysts express their opinion about the economic future of the country, things aren’t looking too bright. Now that the U.S. won’t be leading climate change policies, China will have the chance of doing so. Not only will it provide a geopolitical and diplomatic advantage for the Asian giant, but it will also give them an important monetary opportunity.

What Trump failed to realize about the Paris agreement is that the future of the energy sector doesn’t rely on the coal industry. Far from it. As corporate America has stated, a low-carbon economy has the potential of businesses worth more than US$1 trillion. On the other hand, coal production has dropped by 30% since 2011.

On the account of Trump’s decisions, policies and executive orders, the United States keeps isolating itself from the diplomatic, economic, and political global landscape.; the withdrawal from the Paris climate accord is just another proof that. The good news is that local governments and corporate America are taking the lead and want to distance themselves from the president. Just as Jeff Immelt, CEO of General Electric, tweeted, “Industry must now lead and not depend on government”.

LatinAmerican Post | Juan Sebastian Torres
Copy edited by Susana Cicchetto

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