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Sussex Sustainability Research Programme Director criticises Trump for pulling out of Paris Agreement

Professor Alcamo

The new Director of the Sussex Sustainability Research Programme has criticised President Donald Trump for pulling the United States out of the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

Professor Joseph Alcamo, who played an active role in the international negotiations leading up to the Paris Agreement, as the first Chief Scientist of the UN’s Environment Programme, states the move by the US President is "foolish and short-sighted" and "certainly not in the interests of the American people".

The American citizen, who was also previously the Special Science Advisor to Christiana Figueres, the UN’s coordinator of the Paris negotiations, began his new role at the University of Sussex in April. His full statement can be found below.

“Pulling out of the Paris Agreement has to be one of the most foolish and short-sighted decisions in American history. 

“While it may be a win for the policy of ‘America First’, it’s a huge loss for a policy that puts ‘American People First’. It’s a huge loss for the Americans living in Florida where sea level rise threatens their water supply and property. It’s a huge loss for American farmers facing an increase in extreme weather and crop pests, and Americans abandoning their homes because of wildfires. It’s a huge loss for the millions of Americans coping with more frequent heat waves in their cities.

“The fact is that the American people are not only vulnerable to their own carbon dioxide emissions, but also to the emissions being dumped into the atmosphere from Beijing, or Moscow, or London, or anywhere in the world. Trump may be able to withdraw from the Agreement, but he can’t withdraw from the atmosphere. Abandoning the Paris Accord may be in the interests of the new American political culture, but certainly not in the interests of the American people.

“Although the American government was a key partner in the Paris Agreement, there is no choice but to stay the course without them. As long as Britain, Germany, China, India, and the other big partners remain in the game, we can continue to make progress with global climate protection.

"In the meantime, some big US states like California and New York will continue to draw down their greenhouse gas emissions, and eventually, perhaps after changes at the top, the American government may re-consider its position. Before too long it may realise that the only way to protect the American people from climate impacts is to re-join the global effort to slow climate change.”

The Paris Agreement on the environmenr was signed by 194 countries, including the EU and China, at a UN meeting in the French capital in 2015.

By: Lynsey Ford
Last updated: Tuesday, 20 June 2017