Trump turns his back on Paris climate deal

ECI climate scientists were among those reacting to the news on Friday 2 June 2017, that Trump will withdraw the US from the Paris climate accord.

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  1. "All the agreement actually commits countries to do, is to tell each other what they are going to do [about climate change]. Countries can decide for themselves how they are going to address the problem, so it is very hard to see why America wants to leave." Myles Allen, speaking to Howard Bentham, BBC Oxford

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  2. As news that America will withdraw from the Paris climate agreement spread across the globe, Professor Myles Allen, Leader of ECI's Climate Research Programme, was invited to comment by the world's press.
  3. Speculating on whether America's withdrawal of support would seriously destabilise the UN-brokered climate change deal, Professor Allen said that, in the short term, the repercussions would be small.
  4. "America's economy is already on a path towards lower emissions... [and] I don't think that anyone is going to rush to invest in coal-fired power stations in America because of Trump's decision."
  5. However, speaking to India's Business Standard Allen recognised the underlying issue of fossil fuels as an important market force and political bargaining chip.
  6. "We do need to think about how to make the [Paris] agreement both more effective and more acceptable to nations with substantial fossil reserves — or the U.S. won’t be the last one to jump ship," he warned.
  7. Since Trump's announcement some American states have made counter-statements, expressing their intentions to continue action towards a greener and cleaner future, and California has announced partnerships with Germany and China in the effort to tackle climate change collaboratively.
  8. With this, Allen says, the argument for a 'brand mark' that communicates whether a product is "climate change friendly" is reignited.
  9. Writing in Scientific American, Allen suggests "perhaps it is time to think about a simple product-label: 'Made in and sourced from regions that support the Paris climate agreement'.
  10. "With California and Oregon insisting they will abide by the terms of the Paris agreement anyway, we could then have an interesting discussion about whether and how this could be stuck on Californian orange-juice — or computers containing Intel chips."
  11. In a talk at Exeter University on 7 June, Allen explained that we are headed towards over-shooting the 1.5 degrees Paris climate goal, unless we invest in carbon removal technologies.
  12. On the question of who should pay for the development and implementation of carbon removal, Allen is clear: "We are living with the understanding that you can dig up fossil fuels, sell it to somebody, trouser the profits and leave it for someone else to clean up the mess in 30 or 40 years time: Privatise the profits, socialise the risk.
  13. "Until we radically change the way the way that we think about climate policy... establishing the principal that, if you sell this product, you've got to deal with the waste product, we're not going to solve the problem and 1.5 degrees will remain a fantasy."
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  15. Oxford's Climate Society got involved with the discussion too, inviting legal and scientific experts (including Professor Myles Allen) to debate 'Trump's Paris Exit: the implications' on 13 June.
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