Dr Julia Meaton, in the Centre for Sustainable and Resilient Communities at the University of Huddersfield’s Business School comments on the widespread international condemnation of President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the US from the 2015 Paris climate agreement.
“Initial reactions to Trump’s decision to withdraw the USA from the Paris agreement are likely to be dominated by horror and despair. The agreement is widely regarded as the only effective way of encouraging and supporting all countries, developed and developing, to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions so that global temperature rises are limited to under 2C.
This action of an arrogant, misinformed narcissist , at best, or at worst, a man deliberately prioritising his political alliances with oil barons and his popularity with red neck hicks over the future viability of the planet , will no doubt cause scientists and environmentalists around the world to hold their heads in their hands and shake with disbelief. Such a monstrous and stupid decision in the face of the overwhelming scientific evidence of climate change, including the imminent calving of the Larsen C ice shelf in the Antarctic, will naturally be met with horror, quickly followed by rage.
But maybe, just possibly, this is an overreaction. In the last decade global awareness and understanding of climate change and its impacts has grown, and only those turning a deliberate deaf ear refute the overwhelming evidence. Amongst businesses, even in America, there is an irreversible trend towards engaging with the risks that a warming climate brings. This is not necessarily because business leaders have had a damascian revelation of the scale that some business sustainability leaders have had (for example, the late inspirational Ray Andersen, of Interface), but because they can see how their businesses are threatened by a warming planet. In a world of global supply chains, businesses cannot afford to ignore the risk of water scarcity, climate related disasters and their related logistical challenges, widespread natural resource shortages and more bluntly, the loss of potential customers.
It isn’t necessary for businesses to be fully paid up environmentalists or altruistic philanthropists for them to engage with carbon reduction strategies. Self-preservation alone is enough of an incentive. Trump, despite his deluded self- belief, will, like Canute fail to stem this changing tide.
Trump’s aim to ‘Make America Great’ by supporting and subsidizing a fossil fuelled economy is fatally flawed. Hopefully there are enough savvy US businesses that recognise the global and local opportunities that renewable and clean technologies offer for both economic and environmental sustainability. If not, there are business leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators and individuals from the remaining signatory countries, who will find solutions and will reap the rewards of investing in a sustainable future.
Other countries will take the lead and history will judge Trump as the egotistical, arrogant fool whose self-serving bid to put America first, made it last.”
You can read more on the story on the BBC News website