Donald Trump’s campaign pronouncements on the Paris Agreement, and climate change in general, caused worry and consternation.
Now Trump has been elected, ClientEarth’s CEO, James Thornton, has urged him to rethink his position and avoid squandering the golden opportunity provided by the consensus reached in Paris last December.
Prior to his election, President elect Trump threatened to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. He had also previously tweeted that climate change was a hoax ‘created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive.’
James Thornton warned of the dangers of damaging the Paris climate deal and urged the Republican to rethink his position. He went on to encourage the rest of the world to continue to fight for the planet.
He said: “Besides the damage that it would do to the global community’s attempts to stop dangerous climate change, it is clear that any immediate unilateral withdrawal by the US from the Paris Agreement would be illegal. The US may not legally withdraw from the Paris Agreement before 4 November 2019.”
A refusal to comply with the procedural aspects of the Agreement, or to pursue measures to implement the US’s agreed emissions reduction targets, would also constitute a breach of international law.
Thornton added: “Withdrawing from the UNFCCC entirely would seriously damage the US’s international reputation. If it were to happen we would hope it would be met with strong condemnation by the international community, particularly China and India.
“If the US did withdraw from the Paris Agreement, the rest of the world should not be distracted. The Paris Agreement is our final chance to avert climate catastrophe, and has been ratified by 104 other parties. The world is on a low-carbon transition which is gaining unstoppable momentum, regardless of US policy.”
Thornton also encouraged investors to protect their investments by discouraging any backtracking on America’s climate commitments.
He said: “Climate change still poses financial risks to a range of sectors and the financial system as a whole, and company directors and investors are obliged to manage and mitigate climate-related financial risks that are relevant to their particular businesses
“In fact, US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement may in fact increase these climate-related business risks. We therefore encourage company directors and investors to step up to put pressure on US policymakers to resist any reversal of US policy.
“ClientEarth will continue to work with companies and investors to meet their legal obligations and drive the inevitable shift to a low-carbon energy system.
“We urge President Trump to re-consider his position on climate change, to prevent untold damage to future generations.”
Read ClientEarth’s Investor Briefing on Donald Trump and Climate Risk
Read ClientEarth’s briefing Can Donald Trump cancel the Paris Agreement?