How they see us: Defying the world on climate change
President Trump’s pettiness and irresponsibility are now clear, said Chidanand Rajghatta in The Times of India (India). In a “shrill speech, replete with claims of American victimhood at the hands of the rest of the world,” Trump announced last week that he was pulling the U.S. out of the landmark Paris Agreement on climate change. He “raged against India, China, and the rest of the world,” saying that the global pact, under which countries set voluntary emissions targets, was “very unfair” to the U.S. Using his trademark “hyperbolic falsehoods,” Trump claimed that India had made its participation in the pact contingent on receiving “billions and billions and billions in foreign aid” from the U.S., but was now plotting to steal American coal jobs. He painted a picture of a put-upon America, bullied by the world, stomping home with its toys.
China regrets this rupture, said Zhao Minghao in the Global Times (China). The Paris deal was the product of years of talks between Chinese and U.S. diplomats and experts and “had become a new pillar of Sino-U.S. relations.” As American and Chinese scientists worked together, the idea “that respect for the environment facilitates economic growth” finally took root in China. But there are opportunities in this pullback, said Zhenhua Lu in the South China Morning Post (China). With the U.S. off the stage, China is now the key actor on climate change mitigation. Our government has “poured huge resources into developing green energy as an alternative to the fossil fuels blamed for climate change,” and we’re already seeing results. Under the Paris deal, China’s greenhouse gas emissions were supposed to peak in 2030 and then decline—but our coal consumption has dropped for the past three years, and carbon dioxide emissions have stabilized, suggesting we’ll peak much sooner. Climate change is the greatest threat to our planet, and China’s leadership on this vital issue will make it easier for Beijing “to build relationships, trust, and credibility with other countries.”
But you can’t just replace a global superpower overnight, said Stefan Kornelius in Süddeutsche Zeitung (Germany). Other countries view the U.S. as the world’s rule maker, and by withdrawing from this pact, Trump has “thrown into doubt” all the binding agreements that protect the international order. “Why should Russia, for example, feel obliged to respect the Budapest Memorandum on the inviolability of Europe’s borders if Trump goes back on the climate deal?” International deals like Paris form the framework within which nations can peaceably interact. “But Trump is turning foreign policy into an amorphous mass.”
Paradoxically, though, Trump’s tantrum has unified the rest of the planet and strengthened other nations’ efforts to slash emissions, said Harald Winkler in Business Day (South Africa). China and India are already shuttering coal plants; Europe is going green; even Russia is on board. The climate’s fate is not in Trump’s hands—after all, “his hands are too small.” The rest of the world will hang together, and save the planet with or without America.