G20 Groups Condemn Trump Withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement

(3BL Media/Justmeans) — Yesterday, the chairs of the G20 climate and energy taskforces released a joint statement regarding the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. The statement called the action “shortsighted and irresponsible.”

The letter was written in anticipation of the G20 summit which is scheduled to take place next month in Hamburg. There are already tensions rising between some of the other G20 members, over how confrontational they want to be with the US at that meeting. Some, like German chancellor Angela Merkel, want to feature climate as a central issue, while others like Canadian President Justin Trudeau, want to focus more on those things that can be agreed upon.

In the statement’s own words, “This decision not only ignores the reality of climate change and the opportunities of an international framework for the necessary transformation but also undermines the standing of the United States as a reliable partner in solving global problems. Ignoring the threat posed by climate change endangers a sustainable future for today’s youth and coming generations. Today’s challenges are global in nature and require coordinated solutions and international cooperation. We need globally agreed upon targets and frameworks – like the Paris Agreement and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – to transform huge challenges into opportunities and to create a perspective for innovation, decent jobs, and a vivid civil society.”

The authors ask for the remaining 19 members of the G20, to remain committed. The document was signed by the B20 Energy, Climate and Resource Efficiency (ECRE) Taskforce leaders; the C20 Sustainability (Energy and Climate) Working Group leaders; the leaders of the L20, which represents the interests of workers; the T20 Climate Policy and Finance Task Force leaders; the leaders of the W20, which  is the official G20 dialogue focusing on women’s economic empowerment; leaders of the Y20, the official Youth Dialogue of the G20; and the leaders of the F20, the new G20 platform of foundations.

While we Americans tend to see ourselves as the good guys, the standard bearer for freedom and democracy and an inspiration to the rest of the world, that self-image doesn’t always align with the perception of others. As an example, the US has been chastised many times for its meddling in foreign countries, getting involved, often militarily, to impose the order we’d like to see in a given region. Those calls are often subjective and accompanied by countervailing calls that say we should be doing more. However, there was more consensus concerning the rebukes in 2015 on human rights from the UN’s Human Rights Council. These comments criticized the US “for police violence and racial discrimination, the Guantánamo Bay Detention Facility and the continued use of the death penalty.” Then, of course, there was the outcry over prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib. I won’t take the time here to enumerate the many times the US has played an exemplary role in the world, except to say that they certainly dwarf these incidents both in number and in magnitude.

However, what is worth noting is the trend here that suggests that the US, as a country, seems to be backing away from the commitment that we made to ourselves and to the world, to be a “more perfect union,” as our forefathers vowed in the Preamble to the Constitution.

We have perhaps never fallen farther than we have here, defying an agreement that virtually all the countries in the world came together voluntarily to participate in, for our common defense, against a monumental disaster of our own making, that all parties but our leader and his cabal are willing to acknowledge and are ready to address.

Does the act reflect the will of the American people? The polls certainly indicate otherwise. A Washington Post/ABC News poll shows that 57% wanted to stay in, while 33% thought we should leave. But as far as the rest of the world is concerned, Trump speaks for America. It may not be who we were, or who we will be again in a few years, but it’s who we are now. Unfortunately, given the criticality of the climate crisis (that our President apparently has no interest in informing himself about) those few years, might just be a few too many.

In describing his decision, it’s clear that the President has yet to make the transition from campaigning to running the country. Momentous decisions such as this one, should not be made solely on the basis of gaining approval from his base, rather than considering the best interests of the country as a whole.

Unfortunately, we do not have the luxury at this critical moment in world history, with a runaway climate bearing down on all of us, to have the most powerful and most influential nation on the planet, being ruled by a man who feels that he has the luxury of making such enormous decisions based on purely political calculations.

Given the urgency of the situation, we the people, need to either get him out of office, or take matters regarding climate change into our own hands. Fortunately, significant progress is being made on both fronts. At this writing, 11 states, plus Washington DC, and Puerto Rico have joined the US Climate Alliance, meaning that they will continue to make their plans based on the targets agreed upon in Paris. Those states represent roughly 36% of the US population. In addition, nearly 300 cities, many of which are not in those states, have also committed to follow the commitments that the US made in the accord. When all of these states, and cities, and companies are added up, it’s entirely likely that, once again, President Trump will find the majority of Americans taking a stand against him.