UK ‘should stick with’ Paris climate pact despite US withdrawal

Commenting on the news that President Donald Trump has decided to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement on climate change, former Conservative Party leader and former Environment Secretary Lord Howard of Lympne said that the UK’s interests are served by maintaining its commitment to the UN process.

“It is clear that the UK’s interests do not lie in allowing Mr Trump’s position to sway our own; we can be friends, while agreeing to differ on this issue. We have done very well from the UN climate convention – in the 25 years since Sir John Major and I negotiated it, Britons’ wealth has grown faster than citizens of any other G7 nation, and our emissions have fallen further. Doing our fair share to combat climate change is clearly not harming our economy.

“As the government seeks enhanced relationships with other nations around the world, maintaining our strong and stable commitment to reduce our carbon emissions while helping poorer countries do the same can only be a sensible strategy.”

The Church of England’s lead bishop on the environment, the Bishop of Salisbury, condemned President Trump’s decision to revoke the United States’ ratification of the Paris Agreement on climate change, which has been signed by 194 other countries.

The Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury, said:

“I am, frankly, very disturbed by President Trump’s decision to revoke the United States’ commitment to the Paris Agreement, which was a global commitment made in good faith.

“Climate change is one of the great challenges of our times. There is a moral and spiritual dimension with a strong consensus built among the faith communities about the care of our common home. The scientific, economic and political arguments point in the same direction.

“How can President Trump look in the eye the people most affected, including the world’s poorest in the places most affected by climate change now, and those affected by increasingly frequent extreme weather in parts of the USA? The leader of what used to be called ‘the new world’ is trapped in old world thought and action.

“President Trump has not recognised the economic potential of renewable energy which represents a paradigm shift capable of generating sustainable prosperity. What will our children and grandchildren say to us about the way we respond to this extreme carelessness? 

“Ours is the first generation which cannot say we did not know about the human impact on climate change.

“For the US government to withdraw from taking responsible action in keeping with the Paris agreement is an abject failure of leadership. The USA emits nearly a fifth of global CO2 emissions. This step is particularly disappointing at a time when China, the world’s other mega-emitter of CO2, has committed to deep and sustained cuts in emissions to protect its own citizens as well as the rest of the world.

“In challenging President Trump’s decision, ‘We the people’, including churches and other faith leaders, must speak clearly: this decision is wrong for the USA and for the world. I commend those American churches and faith leaders who are speaking out and organising against this decision.

“How out of touch President Trump is with many of his own people was shown recently, when the Church of England helped lead a consortium of shareholders with $5 trillion of assets under management at the ExxonMobil AGM. A motion was passed overwhelmingly forcing the company to undertake and disclose analysis of what limiting climate change to 2C would mean for its business.

“Shareholders can make a difference. So can citizens and electors.

“I warmly welcomed our UK government’s rapid ratification of the Paris Agreement and I trust that the UK cross-party consensus that climate change is a real and urgent problem will remain committed and strong throughout the Brexit process.”

Michael Grubb, Professor of International Energy and Climate Change Policy, University College London commented:

“It’s unclear what the practical impact of Trump withdrawing from the Paris Agreement will be – and the world may be better off with the US out than undermining it from within.

“His domestic actions to kill Obama’s clean energy plan may slow the energy transition where individual US States don’t step up to fill the gap – but won’t stop it: even the coal industry acknowledges that Trump can’t do much to restore its fortunes.  There is no future in the idea that the US economy will be helped by clinging on to last century’s energy system.

“Internationally the loss of US finance would be the biggest headache, and of course the symbolism is not good.  But it can equally galvanise others, cementing the idea that no one country can destroy a global treaty; it will probably encourage closer China-EU cooperation on the global stage.

“The puzzle is the motives, including overriding his own Secretary of State, the former CEO of Exxon. No-one seems to have probed whether there is any connection between Trump’s stance on climate and his Russian connections, since many in the Russian government believe that they will be less hurt by climate change than other countries, and might even gain, and see the Paris Agreement as a threat to their fossil fuel exports.”

A recent poll [1] commissioned by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit found that a substantial majority of Britons believe the UK should both remain in the Paris climate change agreement and retain the Climate Change Act, a new survey shows.

Two-thirds of Britons (66 percent) say that the UK should remain part of the Paris Agreement, as opposed to 16 percent who say it should leave. Sixty nine percent say that Parliament should retain the UK Climate Change Act, against 11 percent who said it should be repealed.