There were three options for Donald Trump – to honor the Paris Agreement which of course he could not do, to stay within it and do nothing or to pull USA out of the agreement. By opting for the third option he has united the world on enhancing their climate actions, including a large part of the American private sector, American cities and several states. Not only EU and China but also the least developed countries have set high ambitions on climate actions. The Climate Vulnerable Forum which brings together 48 of the poorest countries in the world has committed to go 100% renewable energy by 2050. At such a time Trump is pulling America, the richest country in the world, to the bottom of the barrel, condemning it to dirty energy and obsolete technology.
While one can be optimistic about the convergence and unity of purpose USA’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement has triggered, it will have serious consequences for the continuity of important processes such as the work of the IPCC, which the US used to fund generously, or the Green Climate Fund. Other donors will need to divert resources to fill these gaps. This will have a serious impact of development cooperation which is already experiencing budget cuts due to diversion of resources for migration and multiple humanitarian crises. This is thus a really bad decision that will affect America’s status in the world, its own populations but also some of the poorest people and regions of the world. The only way this can be redressed is by collective action that the Paris Agreement embodied. Trump has provided us renewed energy and a sense of purpose for this.