Spotlight: Major countries stay course despite U.S. withdrawal from climate pact

Source: Xinhua| 2017-06-02 18:10:03|Editor: Tian Shaohui

Photo taken on April 29, 2017 shows a child holding a placard during a demonstration against U.S. President Donald Trump's climate policies in Los Angeles, the United States. (Xinhua/Zhao Hanrong)

BEIJING, June 2 (Xinhua) -- Major countries across the globe have appeared steadfast to advance shoulder to shoulder in their continuous fight against climate change, despite U.S. decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, a landmark global pact reached between 195 countries in 2015 to curb global greenhouse gas emissions.

"As of today, the United States will cease all implementation of the non-binding Paris accord and the draconian financial and economic burdens of the agreement imposes on our country," said U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday in a White House Rose Garden announcement.

Calling the Paris Agreement a "hoax" during the election campaign, Trump fulfilled his campaign promise, but has aroused discord at home.

In response to Trump's decision, governors of California, Washington and New York announced Thursday formation of a coalition committed to upholding the Paris accord.

"I am proud to stand with other governors as we make sure that the inaction in D.C. is met by an equal force of action from the states," Washington State Governor Jay Inslee said in a joint statement.

The alliance will serve as a forum for states to sustain and strengthen existing climate programs and implement new programs to reduce carbon emissions from all sectors of the economy, according to the statement.

Likewise, Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti also announced that he was proud to continue to adopt goals of the Paris Agreement with 60 fellow mayors, who are committed to the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda in local efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Across the world, major powers have also taken issue with Trump's controversial move.

U.S. withdrawal from the Paris agreement is "a major disappointment" for global efforts to reduce greenhouse emissions and promote international security, Spokesperson for UN secretary-general Stephane Dujarric told reporters on Thursday.

French President Emmanuel Macron also denounced on Thursday evening Trump's decision to leave the Paris pact. In a speech delivered at the Elysee Palace, Macron said the United States has "turned its back on the world" and made "a mistake for the future of the planet."

"Wherever we live, wherever we are, we all share the same responsibility -- make our planet great again," the French president stressed.

Trump's decision to ditch the Paris deal will leave a fairly big shoe for a single country to full, but other major players including the European Union, China and India have reiterated their willingness to step up efforts in the face of the U.S. change of heart over the landmark deal.

"We deem the momentum generated in Paris in December 2015 irreversible and we firmly believe that the Paris agreement cannot be renegotiated since it is a vital instrument for our planet, societies and economies," according to a joint statement from Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Marcon.

Miguel Arias Canete, European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, said in a statement on Thursday that the world can continue to count on Europe in the fight against climate change.

"The Paris Agreement will endure," he said, "The EU will strengthen its existing partnerships and seek new alliances from the world's largest economies to the most vulnerable island states."

In this regard, Merkel pledged that Germany intends to work closely with China on important issues such as climate change while attending a business event with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Berlin.

Merkel declared her intentions with an eye to the close China-German relationship, which would require "special responsibility for both countries, for Germany and for china -- in all global issues -- for example climate protection, for the prevention of violent conflicts or in international trade policy."

As the Paris Agreement was designed as non-binding, it is hoped that relevant policies of the signing countries would be set and put into practice through peer pressure and diplomacy.

Yet U.S.withdrawal from Paris would cause reluctance among some countries to "put forward stronger pledges if the U.S. is not doing its part," according to Ellie Johnston, program associate at Climate Interactive, a non-profit group based in Washington.

On the other hand, before Trump announced his decision, U.S. media have quoted some senior officials, including Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson, as saying that the president's move to pull the United States out of the Paris deal would cause serious diplomatic repercussions.

The Unite States would further isolate itself from international collaboration and cooperation on multiple fronts, said Roger-Mark De Souza, director of population, environmental security, and resilience at the Washington-based think tank Wilson Center.

"It will affect U.S. security, the provision of jobs, U.S. business operations, and U.S. diplomatic efforts," De Souza told Xinhua in a recent interview.

Similarly, Kelly Sims Gallagher, professor of energy and environmental policy at the Tufts University, also expressed concerns that Trump's quit from the Paris accord would make it more difficult for other countries to trust the United States in new negotiations.

According to an analysis by the think tank Climate Interactive, the U.S. emission reduction pledge under the Paris Climate Agreement would account for 21 percent of the projected emissions cuts in total through 2030.

Yet Trump seems determined to stress more on America's interests in sight, rather than take into account the potential danger courted by a pollution-dogged global climate in the long run.

"He (Trump) will be remembered in history as neglecting his responsibility to future generations," Gallagher lamented.

KEY WORDS: Paris Climate