Trump, Paris, and America's role in the World
The Paris Climate Agreement was a truly groundbreaking agreement. Ratified by 195 different parties, only two countries: Syria and Nicaragua, did not sign the agreement. Paris marked the first time that international cooperation to combat the causes and effects of climate change occurred. Yet, signs out of the White House indicate that President Trump is leaning toward exiting the pact.
Climate change is real-that much is apparent. I’m not here to talk about the science behind climate change, however. I won’t talk about how the polar icecaps will continue to melt, global temperatures will continue to rise, and major cities will be flooded. All of these effects have been well documented, and have evidence behind them.
There is another, major impact that the US exiting the Paris agreement would have. If the US pulls out, who can trust that the US will stay true to its word?
The United States pulling out of Paris would effectively mean that 194 countries are now opposing the US on climate change, and those countries now totally lack direction on enforcement of the agreement. If the United States doesn’t support the Paris Agreement, what incentive is there for other countries to support it? Indeed, with no US soft power to keep other countries in line, it is very likely that the agreement will collapse. Countries that are booming on the backs of Carbon, like India, have less incentive to stay in.
The United States will also likely lose its clout as a global leader. It’s entirely possible that emerging superpowers like the EU and China will instead take the reins from the United States: not just in CO2 emissions, but in other parts of the globe. This has dire consequences for the United States, in that it will no longer be trusted as the global leader. Countries will not ask Washington for help, but turn to Beijing or Brussels. The past 20 years of the United States’ undisputed status as a superpower has lead to a continuation of Pax Americana, and relative peace around the globe. Wars are not nation on nation anymore, but less bloody civil wars and military coups. This is largely due to America’s global presence, and fear of American intervention.
In addition, European allies will grow more distant from the United States, if the US is to pull out of the Paris agreement. Europe has already steadfastly opposed American withdrawal from Paris, and after a bad time at NATO, the United States cannot afford to lose trust with Europe. An America without allies that trust it is certainly a weaker America.
If America withdraws from Paris, the world will not only lose its great coastal cities and polar ice caps, but also the sense of trust in the most powerful country in human history. America cannot withdraw from the global stage anymore, or the world will lose direction, and we will descend back into the wars and chaos of the early 20th century.