By Dave Sewell
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World rulers won’t save the planet from Donald Trump

This article is over 6 years, 11 months old
Issue 2557
Climate activists in London hold a solidarity protest outside the US embassy
Climate activists in London hold a solidarity protest outside the US embassy (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Donald Trump’s announcement that the US will pull out of the Paris climate agreement sparked a row between rich hypocrites who don’t care about the environment.

The treaty, agreed at talks in Paris in 2015, gives the world’s biggest polluters an alibi for wrecking the climate while pretending to save it.

But even this fake environmentalism is too much for Trump.

Trump made his announcement on Thursday of last week. Seeking to impress workers in the declining US coal industry he said, “It is time to put Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, ahead of Paris, France.”

This can have some resonance given the poverty and insecurity that shape many US workers’ lives.

But the workers of Pittsburgh overwhelmingly voted against Trump in last year’s election. And its mayor Bill Peduto vowed to defy Trump by upholding the Paris agreement locally.

Workers have nothing to gain from clinging to an industry that’s wrecking the climate. And creating a sustainable economy would create far more jobs than it would render obsolete.

But US liberals aren’t defending workers or the planet. Some even argued for staying in the agreement precisely because it doesn’t restrict Trump’s right wing policies.

The row is about the tone of US diplomacy—whether to be seen to cooperate with other countries or to confront them. Trump’s move certainly gave world leaders an easy opportunity for posturing.

Several European heads of state made a joint declaration condemning it—though Theresa May declined to sign.


The European Union and the governments of China and Russia reaffirmed their support for the deal.

Blowing a hole in the Paris agreement gives a symbolic boost to all polluting bosses and politicians.

Weakening the Paris scheme makes it easier for the Tories to ignore the fact that their fracking drive contradicts Britain’s Paris commitments.

Angry environmental protesters rallied in front of the White House in Washington after Trump’s announcement.

A solidarity rally took place in front of the US embassy in London.

Claire James from the Campaign against Climate Change talked about the damage being done to the Great Barrier Reef and the Antarctic ice.

She said, “This is real, this is happening. But when Donald Trump’s advisers are asked whether he believes climate change is caused by humans they just say ‘We will have to get back to you’.”

Trump’s move is outrageous. But addressing the climate crisis means fighting the lying signatories to the Paris deal—and its opponents.

What’s the Paris deal?

The Paris agreement commits to a goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Many island nations could sink under rising seas at that level.

It gives states voluntary targets for emissions cuts. If fulfilled they could mean four degrees of warming or more.

The only solution to global warming is leaving fossil fuels in the ground. The agreement doesn’t even mention them.

Kim Hunter from Frack Free Scarborough told Socialist Worker, “Trump quitting the Paris agreement plunged many people into gloom.

“But Republican leaders always planned to evade the US’s commitments.

“Trump’s action is a call to arms. Let’s give people fighting Trump the confidence to fight him on climate too.”

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