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Trump, the Paris Agreement and the Breakdown of Multilateralism


Trump, the Paris Agreement and the Breakdown of Multilateralism

Dorothy Grace Guerrero

Withdrawing from the UN Paris Climate Accord is one of more than a hundred electoral campaign promises that Donald Trump made. By delivering on that promise, the US now joined Nicaragua and Syria, the only countries that did not sign the agreement. Nicaragua did not sign due to indifference or denialism of climate change, it’s reason was the contrary. Nicaragua’s decision was based on its view that it is not enough to address the climate crisis. Syria is in the middle of civil war and under US and European sanctions.


It is ironic that Trump's autocratic anti-humanity agenda may be the one thing that fosters greater global cooperation albeit without including America or at least a greater cooperation among the world's people and nations in opposition to Trump and the corporate coup. The aftermath of Trump's decision may be a multilateral Resistance!


One mustn't observe this betrayal of the world from the point of view of American exceptionalism. If the US broke down current multilateralism with its retreat from climate sanity, it doesn't mean the end of such international cooperation, just a realignment of nations. The US will now be on the outside looking in while the rest of the world goes about its business without the US. However this withdrawal from a multilateral agreement may actually dispose other nations and potentially "former" allies to drift apart from all international contacts with the US. After all if you can't trust it, why deal with it. NATO may be next. Then trade treaties. Just watch!


Why are we trying to preserve Paris?

It's a woefully inadequate and ultimately counterproductive agreement. It can't be "built upon", yet, eerily similar to the health care battle in the US, enormous energy is wasted on maintaining the status quo, rather than recognizing its deadly limitations, and fighting for solutions that give us our only chance to achieve what we claim to desire.

The Paris Agreement and the ACA are predicated on averting that outcome. They were constructed by the very forces that stand to lose control were honest efforts pursued to deal with these crises.

Our delusions of "pragmatism" are a death sentence for so many with each passing day.


Nicaragua actually has the moral high-ground as the legal obligations of the Paris Agreement are sparse and procedural. Countries are bound to submit increasingly stringent pledges every five years. Yet they are not obliged to achieve them.

Does anyone really think that the U.S. would have ratified the Paris Agreement if it had had any actual force?