MEPs maul Trump on his exit from Paris agreement
Parliament voted on a system to cut emissions from farms, transport, building and waste
Maria Koleva, Strasbourg
17 June, 2017
By coincidence exactly on his 71st birthday, MEPs debated the decision of US President Donald Trump to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, with EC President Jean-Claude Juncker joining the discussion. The majority of the lawmakers criticised strongly Trump’s position on COP 21 and asserted that the EU will fulfill its commitments, move forward with its own climate legislation and accelerate the implementation. There were calls for ‘Europe first’ approach and also ideas were voiced for considering even an imposition of a kind of duties for the American products in Europe. MEPs said that despite Trump’s administration stance, many of the US cities, states and companies will implement the deal.
Marshall Islands President Hilda Heine, who was invited by EP President Antonio Tajani to address the plenary and to give idea how her country is affected by on the climate change, in a very emotional speech pointed out that the world is now watching Europe. She noted how vulnerable her own country is to climate change and explained that with an average elevation of two metres above sea level, “there is nowhere to run, nowhere to hide” and that her country risks becoming completely uninhabitable before the century ends.
As President Tajani specified, climate change is not a fairy tale, it is a bitter reality that can have a devastating impact on peoples’ everyday lives. He said that the situation in the Marshall Islands is sobering testimony to the impact of climate change on those who are most at risk. From desertification, water shortages, exposure to disease, to extreme weather conditions, if we do not act swiftly and boldly, the huge human and economic cost will continue to increase, he warned.
Saying that negotiation of the climate agreement took 20 years, President Juncker underscored that the withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Agreement is more than a sad event. He defined it as “a sign of abdication from common action in dealing with the fate of our planet.” The EU executive body chief stressed as well that the abandonment of Paris by the US administration will not mean the end of the agreement. Now it is the time for implementation, he also stressed.
After the debate, parliamentarians backed with a wide majority strong and ambitious climate law to implement the COP21 agreement that covers about two thirds of EU carbon emissions. As EU committed under the Paris deal, MEPs stressed that the cuts will help deliver on the EU’s overall target for 2030 on all policies with namely a 40% cut from 1990 levels. They set a target for 2050 of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% compared to 2005 levels.
As President Tajani emphasised, the backed by the EP system will reduce the annual greenhouse gas emissions by EU Member States in sectors such as agriculture, transport, construction and waste. An emissions reduction pathway followed by each EU country will start to be calculated as of next year. It is another step towards a greener economy, in line with our Energy Union strategy and our commitment to Paris, which will create jobs and lower energy bills, he opined. The rapporteur on the file, Dutch ALDE MEP Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy, stated that the vote gives a crystal clear signal to Donald Trump that Europe acts on its commitments under the Paris agreement and seizes the opportunities of green growth, with or without the US President.