President Donald Trump’s announcement of America’s exit from the Paris climate accord is by far the weirdest decision of the post-truth era that the maverick Republican leader has come to represent. With one stroke, Trump has not only repudiated the science and logic behind the landmark 2015 climate change agreement but also abandoned his country’s leadership role in the global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and make the planet safer for future generations. The reasons marshalled by him to pull out of the deal, signed by 195 countries, are preposterous and anti-science. The Paris agreement symbolises global unity and commitment to common good and binds the world community into combating global warming as scientists have been warning about the dangers of climate change. The departure of US, one of the largest polluters, would be a major blow to the accord which took nearly three years to negotiate and sends a wrong signal to the rest of the world. Under the pact, countries made voluntary commitments to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases generated by burning fossil fuels and adopt cleaner energy technologies. Under former President Barack Obama, the US had played a major role in facilitating the historical accord by committing to reduce polluting emissions by more than a quarter below 2005 levels by 2025. Trump’s exit from the accord, citing national interests, leaves the ground open for Asian giants like India and China, along with Europe, to take the leadership role in carrying forward the global initiative.
While terming the Paris accord as discriminatory against the US, Trump made some wild allegations against India, saying the agreement allowed it to double its coal production by 2020 and get ‘billions and billions’ of dollars in aid for mitigation efforts. This is far from truth. India has committed to achieving 40% cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel resources by 2030. There is a steady decline in demand for coal plants due to falling prices of renewables such as solar. Moreover, as per the 2013 data, the per capita CO2 emission in the US was 16.4 metric tonnes whereas India’s was just 1.6 metric tonnes. History will not forgive Trump for putting spokes in a painstakingly-built international consensus. However, many American States, including California and New York, publicly challenged Trump and pledged to continue their green energy plans. India has done well to reiterate its commitment to the Paris deal because the renewable energy is an article of faith for the country. Trump’s decision ignores the ground realities. The renewable energy sector is among the fastest growing job creators in the US with solar power alone employing 3.70 lakh people against 1.30 lakh by coal power and mining sectors combined.