Yesterday, after weeks of ego-boosting suspense, Donald Trump confirmed that he will pull America out of the Paris Agreement on climate change. A jazz band played in the background as the President prepared to make his address. Talk about music for the end of the world.
But the international community has rallied to the cause of the “irreversible” accord – and turned what could have been the climate movement’s darkest hour, into one of its brightest.
Here are two key things learned in the hours after the speech:
1. Trump can be trumped. French President Emmanuel Macron summed up the defiant global response with one perfect catchphrase: “Make Our Planet Great Again”. He delivered the call to action in a televised address and then posted it on Twitter:
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) 1 June 2017
2. The UK, as represented by Theresa May, largely failed to show up. May has limited her response to a private phone call with the President (who also spoke to Macron, Merkel and Trudeau). She reportedly told Trump that she was “disappointed” with his plans and stressed that the UK remained committed to the Agreement. But has not signed a joint statement of condemnation from other European leaders.
If this is the “leadership” on climate change promised in her manifesto, then it is leadership of the most lukewarm kind. Jeremy Corbyn has called it a “dereliction of duty”.
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) June 1, 2017
The Prime Minister’s reticence is hardly a surprise. As the website Desmog has mapped in detail, May’s Conservative Party is riddled with links to climate sceptic think tanks and donors.
Yet thankfully, where the UK has stepped back, others have stepped up. The coalition of climate campaigners is now so big and star-spangled you could make it into a film. Quite literally thanks to the support of Disney’s CEO:
As a matter of principle, I’ve resigned from the President’s Council over the #ParisAgreement withdrawal.
— Robert Iger (@RobertIger) 1 June 2017
Business leaders around the world have condemned the President – from Elon Musk to Google and Facebook. Even the very city Trump used to justify leaving the Agreement, Pittsburgh, has turned against him:
As the Mayor of Pittsburgh, I can assure you that we will follow the guidelines of the Paris Agreement for our people, our economy & future. https://t.co/3znXGTcd8C
— bill peduto (@billpeduto) 1 June 2017
The fall-out from the announcement thus dents the one thing Trump designed the move to protect: his personal power. As commentators have pointed out, he did not need to withdraw from the non-binding agreement in order to renegotiate. Doing so stops him taking glory for the renewable revolution to come.
Instead Trump’s withdrawal has handed the opportunity for leadership to others – to Macron, to China, and quite possibly a new, pro-Paris President come the 2020 US election:
bright side of paris + trump is that seeing his supporters makes u welcome the painful and fiery end of the world https://t.co/nIZRgl9y9I
— Amelia Tait (@ameliargh) June 2, 2017