President Trump announced on Thursday that the United States would withdraw from the Paris climate accord, weakening efforts to combat global warming and embracing isolationist voices in his White House who argued that the agreement was a pernicious threat to the economy and American sovereignty.
In a speech from the Rose Garden, Mr. Trump said the landmark 2015 pact imposed wildly unfair environmental standards on American businesses and workers. He vowed to stand with the people of the United States against what he called a “draconian” international deal.
“I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris,” the president said, drawing support from members of his Republican Party but widespread condemnation from political leaders, business executives and environmentalists around the globe.
Mr. Trump’s decision to abandon the agreement for environmental action signed by 195 nations is a remarkable rebuke to heads of state, climate activists, corporate executives and members of the president’s own staff, who all failed to change his mind with an intense, last-minute lobbying blitz. The Paris agreement was intended to bind the world community into battling rising temperatures in concert, and the departure of the Earth’s second-largest polluter is a major blow.
Staying true to his “America first” rhetoric, Trump said the agreement works against the interests of America by taking jobs away from his country.
“At what point does America get demeaned? At what point do they start laughing at us as a country?” he said in an address that was telecast on global news channels such as CNN and BBC.
Signed onto by 195 countries including Uganda, the Paris climate accord unites countries around the world in the efforts to combat the challenge of climate change. It was adopted in December 2015, when Barack Obama was still president of the United States.
In Uganda, the effects of climate change are already biting. Changes in weather patterns are increasing the likelihood of full blown hunger in many parts of the country. The ice on top of the Rwenzori Mountains is melting away.
Nicholas Ssenyonjo, the CEO of the Uganda Environment Education Foundation says the US has been supporting Uganda combat the effects of climate change; something he says is now in jeopardy following Trump’s action.
“The US is a contributor to the green climate fund. So Trump’s decision to leave the Paris agreement will affect financing for countries like Uganda in the battle against climate change,” he says.
“The US is the biggest contributor to pollution globally. Pulling out of the Paris agreement means that they do not care about the effects of their pollution to third world countries like Uganda.”
Anifa Kawooya, the vice chairperson of the Parliamentary Forum on Climate Change (PFCC) describes Trump’s action as “absurd.”
“You have been following the news; you have heard the reactions of several world leaders on this development. What more can I add?” says Kawooya, who is also the Sembabule District Woman MP.
“We are talking about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), how are we going to achieve these goals if we do not take climate change seriously? Countries like Uganda are paying for the actions of big polluters like the United States.”
Ambassador Kristian Schmidt, the head of delegation of the European Union in the Uganda took to Twitter—Trump’s favorite social media platform, to blast the US president’s decision to shun the Paris accord.
Shmidt took the opportunity to remind Trump and the world that the beautiful glaciers of Mount Rwenzori will disappear without the Paris Agreement.