Why U.S. should rethink stand on climate agenda

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A dangerous trend is cropping up in the United States – that of President Donald Trump making populist decisions that could come with detrimental consequences.

Since his election, Trump continues to bypass official government communication procedures to engage the world on Twitter in a way that continues eliciting mixed reactions. 

Even before he settled in office, the Republican leader withdrew the United States from the United Nations-led negotiations on global warming. He also made real his threats to implement sweeping immigration ‘“reforms”’ that largely targeted Muslims and other minorities.

Then, there was the controversial plan to build a wall along the U.S and Mexican border followed by what appears to have been a deliberate attempt to undo every undertaking of the previous administration. His push to have the Obamacare repealed, insiders say, may have been driven by malice and his disdain for his predecessor Barack Obama rather than public good.

But as Trump continues waging unhealthy wars with virtually everyone in sight, it should not be lost to the American public that their country’s long-held advantage of being a world leader is at stake. With Trump at the helm, there is every reason to believe the United States is fast losing esteem in the global community.

Take the climate issue for instance. Why would a progressive leader sabotage efforts to protect the environment? Other than pleasing his political constituency and Republican power brokers, experts and U.S. corporates agree there was no justification to pull out of the Paris Climate accord. The deal was signed in 2015 where countries agreed to limit global warming to 2C above pre-industrial levels. It was backed by 200 nations and ratified by 109.

Prof Roopali Phadke, who teaches domestic and international environmental policy at Macalester College, says Trump has a knack for making “emotional decisions.” This is dangerous for a leader of the free world.

“There were political motivations. He makes decision based on short emotional circles. He is an emotional guy. There was also an internal warfare in government among his lieutenants. We can now do a postmortem. The decision was made to appease some factions. It points to how short sighted it was,” Phadke told visiting foreign journalists this week.

The United States has invested $11 billion in international clean energy finance – including grant-based assistance, development finance, and credit – to support countries meet their growing energy needs. The question would be why Trump would want to undermine such serious gains?

U.S. companies have the will. Individuals such as Will Steger, a popular Arctic explorer, are leading from the front in championing the environmental protection agenda. It behooves those in authority, including Trump to support these efforts.

The media, U.S. citizens and the international community should urge Trump to rethink his stand on the Paris agreement. That way, he will go down the memory lane as one of the leaders who played a significant role in saving the world from the vagaries on global warming. Again, the world is watching the U.S. keenly.