As the world waits for Donald Trump to make a decision on whether he will pull the US out of the UN Paris climate agreement, the world’s leading business paper, the Financial Times asks a simple question: “Might the world be better off if the US simply left?”
First the reasons for the US to stay in. Some politicians are worried that if Trump pulls out the whole agreement could unravel, with other nations arguing that they do not have to act or they can water down their commitments, because the US isn’t acting or water down their commitments. To this end, many people are still lobbying hard to keep the US in the Paris accord.
Ivanka Trump, the President’s daughter and senior adviser, has reportedly been pushing hard to persuade her father to stay in the agreement. Her husband, Jared Kushner is also in favour of staying. Secretary of State, and ex-Exxon boss, Rex Tillerson, is also keen for the US to stays. Even the new head of Exxon, Darren Woods, wrote to Trump last week, asking to keep the US in too.
And yesterday, speaking in New York, the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, urged Trump to keep the US in the agreement, warning the climate-denying President that withdrawal could undermine US national security and the economy.
Guterres said “When you disagree with someone, you try to convince that person. It’s the same with administrations. “We believe that it will be important for the US not to leave the Paris agreement.”
He continued: “It is absolutely essential that the world implements the Paris Agreement — and that we fulfill that duty with increased ambition. The real danger is not the threat to one’s economy that comes from acting. It is, instead, the risk to one’s economy by failing to act.”
The Secretary-General added: “If you leave a void to others to occupy, you might be creating a problem [for] your own internal security.”
One of the options Trump could do is stay in the agreement and essentially do nothing disrupting negotiations from the inside. If this happens some people are arguing that it would be better for the US to leave.
According to the FT: “What if it stays in and tries to stymie the accord or simply ignores the plan to cut US emissions that the Obama administration made for the agreement?”
Luke Kemp of the Australian National University in Canberra, wrote an opinion piece in the Nature Climate Change journal last week on the issue. He told the FT: “A rogue US can cause more damage inside rather than outside of the agreement”.
Kemp also wrote in the influential Conversation website last week. He argued: “The conventional wisdom that the United States should remain under the Paris Agreement is wrong. A US withdrawal would be the best outcome for international climate action … The shock of Trump’s withdrawal could make international action stronger by allowing emboldened leadership to blossom elsewhere.”
At this point, we’ll all know soon enough.