BBC World News: Let’s get more analysis now on this in the Studio with me is Tom Burke, environmentalist and Chairman of E3G. Thank you so much for joining us Tom. Isn’t it interesting, who would have thought that we would be here a few years ago? That China would be at the forefront of all of this, and the United States would be pulling back on climate change?
Tom Burke: I agree, it’s a real switch around. For a long time China was the real back marker. What we saw in the run up to Paris, was the US and China really becoming the locomotive that drew the world forward. And what we are now seeing is president Trump trying to make the US the back marker, the brake, stalling the whole thing.
BBC World News: How much of a setback will it be if president Trump decides to roll back on all of this?
Tom Burke: For the world, it will be a setback to climate diplomacy. Paris put us on the right road, but it didn’t go far enough and it didn’t go fast enough to really tackle the problem. So pulling out, if that’s what he does. It will slow down the effort to go faster and further. But it won’t stop what is already going on. And as we have heard from all kinds of commentators all over the world, in the real economy the transition is already well under-way, and that won’t be stopped by pulling out of the Paris agreement.
BBC World News: And there is political will in the United States to push back on Washington’s line on this.
Tom Burke: I think that is absolutely right, you have most of the states, in fact if all the states that have made commitments to carry on tackling climate change were added together, they would be the fifth largest economy in the world. So we are seeing massive economic and political commitment irrespective of what President Trump does. This is not really about making America great again, this is about taking America back to the 1970’s. There are 50,000 US jobs employed in the mining industry, there are a quarter of a million employed in the solar industry alone. This isn’t about going forward to a better future, this is about going backwards to a world that we were quite happy to get away from.
BBC World News: Indeed, because I have heard some critics say that this isn’t about right and wrong, this is about a White House that is full of climate change sceptics.
Tom Burke: I think that you are exactly right, I think that this is about people who are trying to live in an alternative reality and what comes out of an alternative reality are alternative facts. In order to believe what people like Steve Bannon, Steve Miller and others of Trump’s advisor believe, then you have to really believe that almost everybody else, that all the major businesses, all of the scientists in the world, and all of the other governments in the world, have all somehow been taken in on a giant hoax. Now you have to be living somewhere very strange to believe that. But I think what is much more worrying if Mr Trump pulls out, is that his most respected advisors, his Secretary of State, his Defence Secretary, his National Security Advisor, all think that this is a really major problem and a threat to America’s core interests, and he is repudiating them, just as he is repudiating all of America’s traditional allies. So there are more risks to President Trump’s administration than there are to the climate.
BBC World News: And I suppose, what you are alluding to is, China then taking a leadership role on this?
Tom Burke: We have seen exactly that. And what I think we will see tomorrow from the EU China Summit that is currently going on is a pretty vigorous statement, that identifies this as one of the imperatives to be challenged by the world going forward. And there is no doubt at all that one of the other consequences if Trump does pull out, is that, essentially, they have handed over leadership on a really central issue, to China.
BBC World News: Indeed, Tom Burke, really fascinating talking to you, and we will have to wait and see what happens in the next few hours when we hear from President Trump. Thanks so much.