Americans thumb their noses at Trump’s climate change move

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The announcement by US President Donald Trump that America would pull out of the historic Paris climate agreement has gained widespread condemnation across the globe. Even South Africa weighed in, with the Department of Environmental Affairs issuing a statement expressing “profound regret” at Trump’s decision.

Greenhouse gas emissionsSigned by 195 counties, the Paris agreement charts a path to finally reining in the global carbon emissions that are warming the Earth. Without these emissions reductions, we inevitably face a future of heat waves, runaway fires, devastating floods, seas rising, and a change in the ecology of the planet.

The United States had committed to reducing its emissions by 26% to 28% from 2005 levels by 2025. The United States, exceeded only by China in greenhouse gas emissions, accounts for more than 15% of the worldwide total. It comes as no surprise, then, that the world is up in arms about the country walking away from the agreement.

However, Americans themselves are not fully behind the move. “Leaving Paris is not good for America and the world,” warned Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, as he announced his resignation from Trump’s advisory committee. The governors of California, New York, and Washington announced that they will form a climate alliance “committed to upholding the Paris Climate Agreement and taking aggressive action on climate change”. A coalition of hundreds of U.S. cities, states, businesses and educational institutions issued a statement under the banner “We Are Still In,” pledging to meet the United States’ emission targets under the Paris accord.

In a world where constituencies are used to empty election promises, the move by Trump has come as a surprise – he promised to “cancel” the Paris deal within 100 days of becoming president during his campaign. Trump, a climate change denialist, said it is a “hoax” to weaken US industry and that the Paris accord would cost the economy trillions of dollars with “no tangible benefit”.

The United States is now one of only three countries across the globe not committed to the Paris agreement. Syria and Nicaragua did not sign the accord at its inception. In light of the fact that the US is one of the world’s biggest contributors to greenhouse emissions, the world can only hope that the American people will continue to do what’s right for the planet.

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