Any hope that Donald Trump would tone down his global warming-related rhetoric against India, China and Russia after pulling his country out of the Paris Climate Change Pact, two years ago, was extinguished on Wednesday. In an interview to a British TV channel, the US President said these countries “don’t have good air and water and don’t fulfill their responsibility to the environment”. It would be easy to laugh off Trump’s performance as another display of his illiteracy on textbook environmental knowledge — at one point he even said, “I believe that there is a change in the weather and I think it changes both ways”. The world has, after all, come to accept that the US president is clueless about the difference between weather and climate, let alone the distinction between pollution and global-warming. Even then, it’s worrying that the president of arguably the most powerful nation in the world continues to be ill-informed of basic facts about his country’s track record on climate change. His assertion that “US is amongst the cleanest climes in the world” — rather rich coming from the head of a country that emits the second-most amount of GHGs — is another signal that the US will continue to be stingy in funding climate initiatives in the developing world.
Much like the then US President George W Bush, who walked out of the Kyoto Protocol in 2001 — or the senior Bush whose statement that American lifestyle is not negotiable once topped the list of infamous climate quotes — Trump has denied his country’s culpability in climate change. However, the world has changed much from the times of senior and junior Bush. While Trump has been giving a new lease of life to his country’s coal industry, India and China have made long-term plans to decarbonise their economies. India’s target of producing 40 per cent of its installed electricity capacity by 2030 from non-fossil fuels outstrips that of the US by more than 10 per cent. The EU also has a set of binding emission targets for 2030. And, even in the US, governors of at least 14 states have reassured the world that that they would keep up the country’s climate progress despite Trump upturning Obama-era federal programmes.
At the international level, groups such as the India-helmed International Solar Alliance hold the promise of global technology cooperation despite US braggadocio. The trouble, however, is that arresting global warming problem deserves concerted global action — climate rogues such as Trump stymie it.