Trump Blasts Paris Agreement at Virtual G20 Summit

by Amy Lupica, ODP Contributing Writer

While attending this year’s virtual G20 summit on Sunday, President Trump blasted the Paris Climate Agreement, which President-elect Joe Biden has promised to rejoin on his first day as president. Trump claimed that the international agreement, which involves the interests of almost 200 sovereign nations all with their own social and economic priorities, was specifically “designed to kill the American economy.” Trump went on to say that the U.S. has been a world leader in reducing carbon emissions since his announcement to exit the accord, but the Associated Press noted that the U.S. has made far less progress by percentage. 

Trump also claimed that he left the agreement to “protect American workers,” but his failure to assist former coal workers in the rust belt and his disregard for the over 40 million unemployed Americans suffering job loss due to the pandemic, has left critics skeptical.

Why This Matters: The U.S. is second only to China when it comes to producing carbon emissions. As such, the United States has a responsibility to the world to do its part to lead the world in emissions reductions to combat climate change. The Trump administration, however, has taken every opportunity to empower and deregulate polluting industries and put public lands and carbon sinks at risk of destruction. Despite his efforts to reinvigorate the failing coal industry, jobs in renewable energy are the fastest-growing ones in the United States. Experts are optimistic that Joe Biden’s climate plan can put the U.S. on a path that supports carbon-free energy and emissions reductions at the scale necessary to meet and exceed the Paris Climate Agreement. 

Around The World: China, the worldwide leader in carbon emissions, recently announced a national initiative to reach net-zero emissions. At the summit, Chinese President Xi Jinping emphasized his intent to see the ambitious plan through. “Not long ago, I announced China’s initiative to scale up its nationally determined contributions and strive to peak carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060,” he said. “China will honor its commitment and see the implementation through.” Other world leaders called for a cooperative approach to fight climate change; Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi stated, “climate change must be fought not in silos but in an integrated, comprehensive and holistic way.”

Biden has not only promised to rejoin the Paris Agreement but also reverse many of the Trump administration’s environmental rollbacks. Experts and activists have called on the future Biden administration to reinstate protections for public lands and endangered species that were eliminated over the last four years. Biden assured Americans earlier this month that he is already making plans to do damage control. “I want people to know we are not waiting to get the work done,” he said.

The United States can once again reenter the global effort to combat climate change and serve as a source of leadership and allyship. The Biden administration will also have an opportunity to put climate action at the heart of U.S. foreign policy and build back the diplomatic credibility that’s been lost during the Trump administration. 

 

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