Dismay and defiance: Scotland joins condemnation as Trump trashes climate deal

Climate protest cropped

​Climate change denier Trump is on the wrong side of history say Scottish charities and green groups

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2nd June 2017 by Graham Martin 0 Comments

Scottish charities joined in the world-wide chorus of dismay and defiance which has greeted the US decision to pull out of the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

President Donald Trump confirmed that he is withdrawing from the accord, saying the landmark deal to curb emissions will hurt the American economy and cost jobs.

He is also on record as a climate change denier, claiming it – contrary to overwhelming scientific evidence – it is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese.

His decision, while widely anticipated, was greeted with world-wide condemnation and anger.

It is seen as a blow in attempts to limit human-made climate change.

The Paris agreement commits the US and 187 other countries to keeping rising global temperatures "well below" 2C above pre-industrial levels and "endeavour to limit" them even more, to 1.5C.

The UN World Meteorological Organisation said the US pull-out could add 0.3C to global temperatures by the end of the century.

However, in among the dismay there was a note of defiance – and a sense that Trump is facing in the wrong direction with his American isolationism as the global economy moves towards renewable energy.

WWF Scotland acting director Dr Sam Gardner said: “The world is making it very clear that the Paris Agreement will endure, and while the US withdrawal will impact our climate trajectory, it will not define its final outcome.

“While Trump tries to isolate the US from renewable energy opportunities, Europe, China and India are moving ahead with building clean energy economies, ditching climate-trashing fossil fuels and creating jobs. In fact, in 2016, renewable energy accounted for just under 10 million jobs worldwide, while in Scotland there are now over 58,000 jobs in the low carbon and renewable energy sectors

“Even in the US, renewables jobs already dwarf employment in fossil fuels and that’s why states, cities and businesses across the US are forging ahead with their commitments to clean energy.

“With an upcoming climate change bill, Scotland has the opportunity to be at the cutting edge of delivering the increased action and ambition that over 190 countries agreed to in Paris. Doing so would not only fulfil a moral obligation but open up multiple economic opportunities for Scotland.”

The government that once launched the Apollo space programme has turned its back on science and international cooperation

Chris Hegarty, spokesman on climate change for Christian Aid Scotland, struck a similar chord: “With this setback in the USA, climate leadership in other parts of the world becomes more important than ever. Here in Scotland we have a fantastic opportunity to do that with a new climate change bill expected to come to parliament in the coming months.

“Scotland has also shown leadership in areas such as renewables. With this new climate bill we need politicians of all parties to redouble Scotland’s efforts and demonstrate the way forward to those - like President Trump - who refuse to face up to the urgency of climate change. A rapid shift to a low-carbon future is necessary, possible, and can bring enormous benefits to our economy and society.”

Friends of the Earth Scotland's director Dr Richard Dixon said: "Donald Trump seems intent on ripping up US relationships with the rest of the world and rolling back decades of progress on social and environmental issues. Trump is the only world leader who denies climate change and he has made the US a climate pariah but the world will make progress despite them.

“Trump is the President that the fossil fuel industry has been waiting for. But he is too late because market forces are already ensuring that the fossil fuel industry is in terminal decline. Far from creating an economic resurgence, Trump’s actions mean US industries will lose out to the green technologies coming from Europe and China. Already solar and wind energy are cheaper than coal or gas power, and electric cars and household power batteries will soon be commonplace.”

“The choices we make now will determine whether our planet can continue to sustain life as we know it. In Scotland we have a chance to demonstrate that it is possible to cut our carbon emissions and at the same time create a fairer and more equal society.”

John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said: “The government that once launched the Apollo space programme and helped found the United Nations has turned its back on science and international cooperation. By rejecting the Paris agreement Donald Trump has chosen to back the short-term profits of fossil fuel companies over the security, health, and prosperity of hundreds of millions of people in the US and the rest of the world.

“Prime Minister Theresa May must now publicly distance herself from Trump’s irresponsible move.”

In a phone call, May told Trump she was “disappointed” with the US decision – but she has been criticised for not signing a joint condemnation from France, Germany, and Italy.

The Scottish Government’s cabinet secretary for climate change, Roseanna Cunningham, said: “This news is bitterly disappointing and deeply frustrating but we must not forget nations, states and cities around the world remain resolutely committed to the fight against climate change.”