Climate: Trump vs. the rest of the world?

Just a few days after US President Trump announced the US's withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement the first UN Ocean Conference has begun in New York. Europe's press looks at what the conference can achieve, but also at the shortcomings of the Paris agreement.

Open/close all quotes
Upsala Nya Tidning (SE) /

A chance to demonstrate unity

With this conference the international community can show how cooperation on environmental issues can work, Upsala Nya Tidning points out:

“What better subject of debate could there be than the oceans, which literally affect everyone? … As a concrete result we can expect measures against the eight million tonnes of plastic that end up in the sea each year. … A declaration of the will to combat the pollution of the oceans would prove that cooperation is possible on global issues. And this is vital right now. The more one thinks about it, the better the timing of this conference seems.”

Dnevnik (SI) /

The world is privatising the climate

Dnevnik sees the bitter contradictions of the Paris Climate Agreement even more clearly exposed now:

“On the one hand there is the struggle to promote the common good. On the other it is marked by strong individual interests that see climate protection as a business opportunity. At the centre of this financial architecture lies the Green Climate Fund. It serves to discipline and subjugate the developing countries, whose private companies want to implement climate projects for their own interests using public money. This is the beginning of the process of privatising the climate. … With its move the US has upset international law and the international order and made profit the top priority. … While not rendering the agreement null and void, the withdrawal has merely strengthened its darker side.”

Biziday (RO) /

US risking war

Trump's decision could mean war, economist Moise Guran writes in his blog biziday:

“The EU and the US are heading ineluctably for a trade war. Reducing air pollution is a costly affair. Here Trump is right. Pulling out of the agreement will give the US competitive advantages. That leaves the other signatories with two options - either they isolate the US commercially with an export tax or they themselves withdraw from the agreement. This is precisely the problem, but apparently Trump and his voters don't understand that. The incompetence of the president of the world's most powerful state is a disaster for the rest of the world. ... Not because it will ultimately lead to our planet's destruction, but because economic wars have consistently led to real wars - with weapons, missiles, and deaths.”

L'Echo (BE) /

Europe hardly a role model

The Europeans don't exactly have a clean record either when it comes to climate protection, L'Echo chides:

“Casting the US as the environmental sinner par excellence and Europe as some kind of green sanctuary would be a gross oversimplification. We mustn't forget that France and Germany - to give but two examples - continue to defend diesel technology (and by extension their own economic interests). Although diesel contributes less to global warming than petrol, it is by no means less harmful to our lungs. To say nothing of the fraud scandals that have rocked several European carmakers who are less than scrupulous regarding emissions norms. ... And although after Fukushima Berlin decided to close its nuclear reactors and switch to renewable energy, part of its nuclear power will be replaced by coal.”

Jyllands-Posten (DK) /

US business sector inspires hope

It's a hopeful sign that right after Trump's speech large segments of the US business community came out in support of climate protection, Jyllands-Posten stresses:

“A consolation on this sad evening is the unity of American business in opposing Trump's decision. As well as the fact that America's scientific dynamism and innovative power are so unique that they ensure that in the years to come the country will produce technical solutions that conform to the climate agreements. ... True, you can't criticise President Trump for his slogan 'America first'. But it's every bit as legitimate when the US's best friends - including Denmark - do all they can to prevent the Trump era from making "America last".”

Der Standard (AT) /

Struggling president isolating the US

The withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement shows how bad the situation is for Donald Trump and his presidency, Der Standard believes:

“The signals he sent that he was adopting a more moderate stance in the past weeks haven't helped him in the media or the polls. ... Now the man who is increasingly overwhelmed by the job of US president is retreating deeper and deeper into his bunker, from where he rails at the world via Twitter. Once again he's playing the nationalist card that caused such horror during his swearing-in ceremony. This policy is leading the superpower into unprecedented isolation. The price must be paid by all those in the world who are already suffering from the effects of climate change, as well as those states that have so far relied on the US as an ally. But it is his own country Trump is damaging most.”

Hürriyet (TR) /

Climate agreement now just an empty shell

The US's decision completely undermines the climate agreement, Hürriyet comments worriedly:

“One of the world's leading countries is pulling out of an agreement that is crucial for the future of the planet, for the continued survival of mankind. … The deterrent effect for developing countries that reluctantly agreed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions is weakened when a rich country prioritises more wealth over sustainability with the words 'America first'. … It is of great significance that among the world's major economic powers the EU and China want to assume a leading role in tackling the climate problem. But an agreement which the US isn't part of is just an empty shell.”

Denník N (SK) /

Does the president think the earth is flat?

Trump is once again flying in the face of reality, Dennik N writes in disbelief:

“You can argue back and forth about many aspects of climate change. It's legitimate to question whether humans alone are to blame or whether it's also the result of a natural process. However, climate change itself is a fact. You don't need to read scientific reports to know that, all you have to do is live on planet Earth. Denying climate change the way Trump does is like denying that the earth is round. ... Ignoring reality doesn't change that reality. You can have doubts as to the effectiveness of the Paris Climate Agreement. But it's absurd to doubt the consequences of climate change because they're visible and only getting worse. And what's more: Trump has no better alternative to everything he's sabotaging.”

Les Echos (FR) /

Dr. Strangelove toying with our kids' future

The withdrawal from the climate agreement isn't even the climax of Trump's environmental destruction, Les Echos criticises:

“The worst thing isn't having to watch as this Dr. Strangelove plays with our children's legacy. The worst thing is that he'd already started the process of destroying Barack Obama's clouded legacy - with or without the Paris Agreement. His relaunch of the giant Keystone pipeline project with [the west Canadian province of] Alberta, his axing of the Clean Power Plan for limiting plant emissions, his hair-raising praise for 'good, clean coal', and the nomination of a climate change sceptic as the head of the US Environmental Protection Agency all suffice to make Donald Trump public enemy number one for all those in favour of a liveable planet.”

Dnevnik (SI) /

The start of an environmental cold war

Trump can be accused of many things but not of lacking consistency, Dnevnik comments:

“He promised to cater only to American interests, and that's what he's done. Of course it's easy to blame the US for the world's problems, and Trump makes that all the easier. Because it's unpleasant to listen to him, because he says plainly the things US politicians usually wrap up in empty phrases. US foreign policy is based on a strong will and expects other countries to follow America's lead - even when they don't agree and when US decisions run counter to their own interests. ... This time too, the US president is not looking for allies. He's declaring an environmental cold war against the signatories of the Paris Agreement.”

The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

Triumph of clean energy unstoppable

Even if the US now opposes the Paris Agreement the damage will be limited, The Daily Telegraph assures readers:

“Innovation and scale are leading to dramatic cost reductions: the global cost of wind and solar are estimated to have plummeted by 71 per cent and 83 per cent respectively since 2008. Even without supportive government regulation in the US, the fundamentals favour renewables. There is no doubt that Trump's decision to leave the Paris Agreement is symbolic of his profoundly irresponsible attitude to his duty to protect our precious natural inheritance for future generations. But climate action has an unstoppable economic and political momentum around the world. Fortunately, Trump's ability to cause lasting damage will be limited.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Exit would polarise the world

The US pulling out of the deal would have consequences for international politics that go far beyond climate protection, the Süddeutsche Zeitung warns:

“The world is too dependent on the US for that country's capers not to have an impact on the rest of the globe. If it exits the climate agreement others will be inclined to follow suit, the binding nature of international agreements would be thrown into doubt and the world would be polarised. Why should Russia, for example, feel obliged to respect the Budapest Memorandum on the inviolability of Europe's borders if Trump goes back on the climate deal? International law provides the framework for transactions between states, but Trump is turning foreign policy into an amorphous mass - unmouldable, fragile and always in flux.”

Wiener Zeitung (AT) /

EU and China must show the way together

If the US withdraws from the Paris climate agreement the EU and China must deepen their cooperation, the Wiener Zeitung writes:

“Trump was elected by many miners because he wants to make the coal industry strong again - which would be madness for the global climate. Man-made natural disasters trigger waves of refugees and lead to immense destruction. This is something the states then have to deal with, not the companies that cause them. … China has recognised the sign of the times, and Europe too. If the US pulls out of the Paris Agreement these two must work all the more closely in the areas of energy, industry and urban development. Once Trump's era ends the US would then have to buy all the technologies that emerge in Europe and Asia. But until that happens there will be many victims, flood disasters and droughts that cause suffering and starvation.”

Le Temps (CH) /

Is the president shooting himself in the foot?

Trump will weaken his position at home and abroad if he really does withdraw from the agreement, Le Temps is convinced:

“Many states, first and foremost California, have made climate protection a priority, and it seems nothing will stop them from achieving their goals. Texas, known for its flourishing oil industry, has for years been investing extensively in wind and solar energy because it sees the potential economic benefit. That gives us hope. The resistance to Trump's decision could be massive. ... [Going back on the agreement] would also be a colossal foreign policy mistake. Angela Merkel said it last week: Europe can no longer count on Washington. China is planning to invest some 360 billion dollars in renewable energies by 2020. An American pull-out would give Beijing the unique opportunity to position itself as the spearhead of today's and tomorrow's energy revolution.”

Helsingin Sanomat (FI) /

Trump showing the world his middle finger

Trump's main objective is to keep his supporters in the US happy, Helsingin Sanomat suspects:

“The general rule of thumb in the US is: the left believes that Americans can learn from the rest of the world while the right believes the rest of the world must learn from the Americans. So we see how President Barack Obama signed the Paris Agreement while President Donald Trump apparently wants to step away from it. … The fact that Trump's voter base is crumbling could be a key factor behind his decision. … [His supporters] are very disappointed that he didn't push through the healthcare reform. Now he needs to show them that he hasn't been spooked by this. And that's why he's showing the world his middle finger.”