Al Jazeera: Joining me now in the studio is Tom Burke, who is the chairman of the climate think tank E3G. So, we are awaiting and announcement from President Donald Trump, but reports suggest that he will indeed pull the US out of the Climate Change Deal. What impact to you think this will have on the agreement itself?
Tom Burke: On the deal itself, I think that it will slow things down a bit. What Paris did was put us on the right road to deal with climate change, but as was recognised at the time, it wasn’t going to take us far enough or fast enough, so it built in a mechanism for increasing its ambition every five years or so. I think Trump pulling out will slow down that acceleration that we need. But it won’t stop it, and as all the commentators have been saying, the fact that he pulls out, won’t change what is happening in the real economy, where the world had already started to make the transition to a low-carbon economy. Paris was one of the big initiators of that, so now you are seeing most of the investment in energy around the world, is going into renewables, is going into electric vehicles, and developing the low-carbon economy.
Al Jazeera: Why then is there so much concern, because there is this agrument is that you can’t control what the private sector does, you can’t control what businesses invest in, you can’t control what options consumers will pick for their source of energy, and you do have electric cars and renewable sources of energy becoming more attractive, as prices go down, but if all that is the case then why is there so much concern about Trump doing this? Why is it so significant?
Tom Burke: Well, nobody can understand why, for all the reasons that you have just said, why Trump wants to do this, it is not in America’s interest to do it economically , and it is not in America’s interest to do it geopolitically. There is going to be quite a price to be paid for repudiating and agreement that everybody else in the world apart from Syria and Nicaragua has signed up to. He has just blown in the face of America’s most traditional allies, and said I don’t care what you think is important, I am going to go my own way, now if there was some reason for it, that people could make sense of, then people might be prepared to accommodate him. But just doing it in this arbitrary and in explicable way leaves everybody baffled about what exactly he is trying to accomplish? And where else will he be just as unpredictable.
Al Jazeera: Well I suppose that the argument it that the restrictions and regulations that come with signing up to a deal like this, and other policies that the US currently has in place, are not good for the American economy and that they are hurting jobs, and that actually this will help, and this sends a very powerful signal, not just on the international stage, but also to businesses within the US that it would be worth investing in other industries in order to generate jobs in other areas.
Tom Burke: Well, his own most senior economic adviser has already publicly said, that pulling out of the Paris Agreement won’t help the coal industry. If you look at just simple numbers, there are fifty thousand coal miners in the United States, there are a quarter of a million people who are working in the solar industry alone. The markets have already made their minds up, what is extraordinary is to see a conservative president ignoring the clear signals that are coming from the market, about where the balance of economic advantage lies.
Al Jazeera: Why is he such a cheerleader for the coal industry, he says “coal is a beautiful thing”, why does he say that?
Tom Burke: I can’t explain that any more than I can explain many other aspects of Mr Trumps behaviour, he is not something that we have ever seen before. He seems to me to be very ignorant about both energy policy and climate policy. He seems to live in an alternative reality, where things will happen just because he wishes them, now I can’t explain why he is like that, any more than I can explain why the American people voted for him.
Al Jazeera: Alright, Tom Burke, for now, thank you very much.