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The Trump administration’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris agreement is harmful and irresponsible. The United States is the world's second largest greenhouse gas emitter and, as a global superpower, it has a clear responsibility.
At the same time, the long-term consequences of this withdrawal are uncertain. The G7 group of nations made it clear last week that the seven largest economies – with the exception of the United States – will stand behind their commitment to do everything they can to ensure global warming is below the global 2-degree-Celsius limit. The EU, India and China take the Paris agreement seriously and show firm commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Renewable energy, especially from sun and wind, is the future. Renewable energy is better for the economy, society and people’s health. By pulling out of the Paris agreement, the United States chooses to hold back its own emerging renewables industry and will impede job growth in the future.
The world is globalized. We live in the Anthropocene, where we humans now exert an ever-increasing influence on the whole of our small planet. It is therefore extremely irresponsible of the world's second-largest greenhouse gas emitter to choose to step aside. We have a collective responsibility to manage the whole planet to ensure welfare for all. The world needs to halve emissions every decade to 2050. Regardless of President Trump’s decision, this is what must happen to reduce risk. He may be able to abandon international laws, but not the laws of physics.
By leaving the Paris agreement, the United States joins just two other countreis, Syria and Nicaragua, and renounces its role as global leader for a stable world.
Johan Rockström is the director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre and a professor of environmental science at Stockholm University. He is an internationally recognized scientist for his work on global sustainability issues.
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