Interview: California governor says climate cooperation with China "imperative"

Lauren Perry
June 5, 2017

President Donald Trump has declared he was pulling the USA from the landmark Paris climate agreement, striking a major blow to worldwide efforts to combat global warming and distancing the country from its closest allies overseas. The move came in the face of high-profile pressure from a diverse set of voices-everyone from Pope Francis and USA military brass to business leaders such as Tesla CEO Elon Musk and ExxonMobil CEO Darren Woods, and other members of the G-7 had urged the US president to remain in the accord.

The government of South Africa issued a statement Friday expressing its "profound regret" over Trump's decision, noting that the USA stands alone in its denial of the crisis, which it has largely worsened with decades of industrial growth and excessive consumption, "and therefore has a moral obligation not only to lead in reducing emissions, but to support poorer economies in contributing to the global effort".

The Cambridge, Massaschusetts-based research university published a study in April 2016 titled "How much of a difference will the Paris Agreement make?" showing that if countries abided by their pledges in the deal, global warming would slow by between 0.6 degree and 1.1 degrees Celsius by 2100. "If we can, great. And if we can't, that's fine".

At the urging of his chief strategist Stephen Bannon and others, Trump instead sided with those who were most enthused about his unanticipated win a year ago and whose support the White House deems crucial as Trump seeks to weather the turmoil of multiple investigations into Russian election meddling. A recent Yale University poll found that nearly 70 percent of Americans, including almost half of Trump voters, supported the US sticking with the Paris agreement.

Speaking on behalf of the Chinese government, which many observers noted would benefit from the failure of climate leadership and innovation from the USA, foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying also promised to "earnestly implement our obligations" to the Paris agreement, saying it is a "responsibility shouldered by China as a responsible major country".

The timing for this trip was noticeable, as Brown responded strongly a day ago to U.S. President Donald Trump's announcement to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, vowing to "resist" and to "fight".

Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett has already affirmed Trump's right to fulfil his election commitments: "It's democracy in action", she said. Under the climate agreement, the USA agreed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 28% below 2005 levels by 2025. "Recognizing that climate change is a significant threat to human health, Virginia Mason will continue to pursue a path of providing quality healthcare in such a way that it protects individual, community and global health".

Tapping into the "America First" message he used on the election trail, Trump announced the withdrawal on Thursday, saying that participating would undermine the USA economy, wipe out, weaken American national sovereignty and put the country at a permanent disadvantage to others.

But Britain did not sign a joint statement by the leaders of Germany, France and Italy, who said they regretted Trump's decision and insisted that the accord can not be renegotiated. Each signatory to the Paris accord was left to devise its own emission goals and how to reach them; the negotiations were not a case of the world imposing standards on the U.S. The burden the U.S. placed on itself under the Obama administration is in part a function of the country's status as the largest source of accumulated carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere.

Trump allies say the president is merely trying to follow through on his campaign promises, but others see missed opportunities to broaden the appeal of a Republican president who lost the popular vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton and whose job approval hovers around 40 percent.

"Today's decision is a setback for the environment and for the U.S.'s leadership position in the world", Goldman Sachs Group Inc CEO Lloyd Blankfein wrote on Twitter.

Referring to "the latest unfortunate decisions of the new administration", Tusk said that the European Union and China had "demonstrated solidarity with future generations and responsibility for the whole planet" by reaffirming their climate change commitment. During Trump's speech, the faint sounds of protesters could be heard in the distance banging drums. They can do whatever they want for 13 years, not us. But at a time when the White House is struggling to get back on track and realign themselves with the public on the issues that got Trump to the White House in the first place, the Paris accord was his salvation in many ways.

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