Trump, the Paris Climate Agreement, and the G20 – BBC News

 

 

BBC News:  Theresa May has talked about the collective message she hopes will be delivered to Donald Trump on the Paris Climate Agreement. She thinks that it is possible that the US might change its mind, do you think that is the case?

Tom Burke: I don’t think that there is any chance that Trump will change his mind, they haven’t actually withdrawn, it’s going to take three years for them to do that in any case, but I think there is very little prospect, he has set his face against in, not just internationally but also in terms of domestic policy. What is really interesting to observe, is that actually most Americans don’t support him in doing that. Mrs May is right to stress the importance of the rest of the world coming together to give a clear message to Mr Trump, that if security is at the top of your agenda, and migration is at the top of your agenda, then you had better do something about climate change.

BBC News:   And views may remember the really impassioned statement that the host Angela Merkel released, when Trump announced America’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, and she talked about the importance of protecting Mother Earth. Now, she really wantS to get something done on this at this summit, doesn’t she?

Tom Burke: I think that is absolutely right, and I think actually it is quite a contrast, her reaction immediately when Trump made the announcement was very strong, and Mrs May’s announcement was very muted, you hardly heard her saying anything, and people noticed and commented on that. Which reflects the way in which, even at this summit, she is going to be marginalised, because people noticed that she didn’t rush to follow the lead of Mrs Merkel, she sort of hung back, and now she is trying to say all the right things, but they don’t have the same weight they would have had, if she had come out at the right time with such strength.

BBC News: So, what can we expect from this summit in terms of any statement on the Paris Climate Agreement? Will we see a reaffirmation of support from other countries, that will side line America, and side line Donald Trump?

Tom Burke: I think what is really important to look for coming out of this, is whether any of the other countries try to some how trem in behind Trump, and use Trump as a kind of shield. If you have 19 countries at the summit all lining up behind Merkel, and Mr Trump on his own, you have a reaffirmation. If you begin to see other countries tremming in behind Trump, then you need to start to worry a bit about whether the Trump intervention had started to weaken the global commitment.

BBC News:  If it is the other countries lined up behind Merkel then I can’t see how the diplomats could put a gloss on this, it would be a very clear message to him that they are deeply unhappy with what he is doing, but then they don’t particularly care about causing him offense on that subject do they?

Tom Burke: I was going to say, I’m not sure that anybody in the real world is that bothered, on this issue, about what Trump has to say. If you look at what happened on the same day that he made the announcement about withdrawing from Paris, BlackRock, the biggest investment company in the world, voted against the board of Exxon, because they weren’t coming forward to set out what their climate risks are. So the world’s major investors, take this problem as real, and something that has to be dealt with urgently. Just two days ago we had Volvo coming out and saying that they are not going to build any more internal combustion engine vehicles after 2020. You are seeing the rest of the world move on. So I’m not sure that in the real economy anybody is paying attention to what Trump says, or what he does, and if that results in the American economy not being able to take the opportunities of building a low-carbon economy, frankly, the rest of the world, especially the Chinese, the Indians, and of course the Europeans, are going to be perfectly happy about that.

 

 

About tomburke

Tom Burke is the Chairman of E3G, Third Generation Environmentalism, and an Environmental Policy Adviser (part time) to Rio Tinto plc. He is a Visiting Professor at both Imperial and University Colleges, London. He is a member of the External Review Committee of Shell and the Sustainable Sourcing Advisory Board of Unilever and a Trustee of the Black-E Community Arts Project, Liverpool.
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