It is time US President Donald Trump, too, acknowledged climate change at least as an ‘alternative fact’. While he was indeed “elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris”, Pittsburgh is not the world.
Leaders assembled at the G20 Summit in Hamburg have clearly taken a stand against the US withdrawal from the climate accord and, of course, Trump’s shift to ‘unilateral, transactional diplomacy’.
In their final communique, all nations except the US acknowledged that the Paris Climate Agreement was “irreversible” and expressed their commitment to it. The only half effort the US has taken to look as if it were in favour of climate efforts was the addition of a line that it would “endeavour to work closely with other countries to help them access and use fossil fuels more cleanly and efficiently”.
Although chief economic adviser to President Trump, Gary Cohn, has played down the tensions between the US and other countries on climate change, the fact remains that there are growing signs that the US is drifting away from other countries on this subject. While every country has the right to hold its course on a subject and diversity of opinion is bound to occur in any setup involving more than one party, it must also not be forgotten that the US here is dealing with a matter of vital importance to the entire world.
Signs of climate change are flashing stronger worldwide with each passing day and the US cannot shut its eyes forever to the fact that it is among the biggest carbon emitters in the world.
When developing countries such as India and China are willing to take greater, more urgent efforts towards growing sustainably with greater thrust on green energy, it is worrying that the US is turning away from facing some grim realities.
America is lending its hand to pollution not only owing to its own actions but also as a consumer of products from around the world. It is also engaged in military exercises and such other activities all year round, whose effects on climate are seldom discussed.
Studies that could show how US weapons testing and use of powerful explosive devices are affecting the environment are either not being carried out or remain half-hearted efforts. The same holds good for military endeavours of all other nations too.
The US may still not find it a drain on its economy to fund its war efforts in countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan. The country has spent millions on arming and equipping fighters in such countries and will, in all probability, continue to do so; at the same time it is finding it untenable to contribute to UN Green Climate Fund, which is to help poorer countries adapt to climate change and expand clean energy.
It is not even ready to report on carbon data although domestic regulations in the US require it to do so. If the US is able to fund militaries in other countries and carry out military exercises without hurting its economy, something is very wrong with it.
Other world economies appear to have realized the importance of mitigating climate change. But the US remains adamant because Pittsburgh says so. Trump, by leaving the first row and standing tall in the second row at Hamburg photoshoot may not, in reality, have given out any clear message favoring the future of the world environment.