President Trump’s climate change move and P.M. Tuilaepa

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

This much is undeniable. If American President Donald Trump was not popular before, he would have to be the most hated person there is now following his decision to withdraw the United States from the landmark Paris climate agreement yesterday.

 In a move that has caused widespread anger across the world, Trump has defended his decision as a “reassertion of America’s sovereignty.”  

According to reports, Trump insists that the Paris climate pact as negotiated under former President Barack Obama was “grossly unfair to American workers.” And now that he is in position to do something about, Trump has made true a promise he made during his Presidency campaign.

“I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris,” he declared.

“In order to fulfill my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord but begin negotiations to reenter either the Paris accord or an entirely new transaction on terms that are fair to the United States, its businesses, its workers, its people, its taxpayers.”

In what was obviously a dig at Obama, Trump said he endangered the future of Americans by signing the deal.

“The rest of the world applauded when we signed the Paris agreement. They went wild. They were so happy. For the simple reason that it put our country, the United States of America, which we all love, at a very, very big economic disadvantage.

“We want fair treatment for its citizens and we want fair treatment for our taxpayers. We don’t want other leaders and other countries laughing at us anymore - and they won’t be.”

Truth be told, no one is laughing at this very moment. Trump it must be said has probably become the most hated person on these shores especially because we know that climate change is not a myth, we are talking about a matter of life and death. 

Which is why the swift condemnation of Trump’s decision from this part of the world is hardly surprising. On the front page of the newspaper you are reading, a young Samoan is leading the charge.

“Trump’s exit from the Paris agreement is immoral and a sign of shortsightedness on his part,” Koreti Tiumalu said. “It’s even clearer now that his priority is with protecting the profits of the fossil fuel industry and not the Pacific.”

Tiumalu is among a group of Pacific Island civil society organizations under the Pacific Islands Climate Action Network (P.I.C.A.N) who say the move by the U.S. President would only isolate the United States (see story page 14).

But if you thought the opposition to Trump was confined to the shores of the Pacific, think again. Yesterday, the leaders of France, Germany and Italy issued a joint statement against Trump.

“We deem the momentum generated in Paris in December 2015 irreversible and we firmly believe that the Paris Agreement cannot be renegotiated, since it is a vital instrument for our planet, societies and economies,” read the statement from French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.

Erik Solheim, executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme, said “the biggest losers will be the American people.”

“It’s obviously regrettable. The world needs American leadership. However, the impact is less than most people would believe, because China, India and Europe will provide leadership.”

Obama, who strongly defended the Paris agreement, feels the same.

“I believe the United States of America should be at the front of the pack,” Obama said. “But even in the absence of American leadership; even as this Administration joins a small handful of nations that reject the future; I’m confident that our states, cities, and businesses will step up and do even more to lead the way, and help protect for future generations the one planet we’ve got.”

Former U.S. vice president, Al Gore, did not hold back.

“It undermines America’s standing in the world and threatens to damage humanity’s ability to solve the climate crisis in time,” he said.

Climate official at the European Union, Miguel Arias Canete, summed it up well: “A sad day for the global community, as the US turns its back on the fight against climate change.”

We couldn’t agree more. For Samoa, the leaders of this nation are just waking up to the decision. There is no doubt they too will express grave disappointment about what has unfolded.

Keep in mind that Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi has already publically scolded Trump over his views about climate change.

At the beginning of the year, Tuilaepa, who is a vocal advocate of climate change awareness in the Pacific, said the United States President cannot deny the truth.

 “A leader cannot say that the country is not affected by climate change when everyone else in the community is facing it and living with the impact of climate change,” Tuilaepa said.

 “The thing is up until now; they still haven’t fully recovered from the impact of Cyclone Katrina. Not only that, in America they have had a lot of natural disasters. A lot of lives have been affected because of heavy rainfall and strong tornados.”

As rich and powerful as he is, Tuilaepa said Trump will also be affected by climate change.

“Imagine having a strong tornado during the cold weather. This can affect the power outrage. Even if you stay in a hundred-storey apartment, when the elevators don’t work, you will be stuck there and many lives can be affected too.

 “There are a lot of things that we don’t know.”

Tuilaepa at the time revisited history, taking a trip down memory lane to the aftermath of the First World War from 1914-1918.

 “People thought that was the greatest war ever. But the truth is, if it weren’t for the United States of America, the war wouldn’t have finished.” 

 “So after the war, the leaders and the government of America set up an Isolationist Policy. Isolationists advocated non-involvement in European and Asian conflicts and non-entanglement in international politics.

 “Their main focus was to put America First. And that is what Trump is trying to do again. He is planning on making America first again.”

 “But during the Second World War, they (America) tried to stay away from it. But they ended up involving themselves because of the Pearl Harbor incident.

“You see, they thought that just because stayed away, they wouldn’t end up being involved. But America fought as well. It was there that they (U.S) realised, that they have a duty to save the world. And they’ve been doing all these years.” 

Getting back to climate change, Tuilaepa said: “He is fighting to put America first. But how can he do it? “

 “That is just a dream; a stupid dream that can easily fool people. The truth is, most of the people in America will never accept it because they understand the effects and impacts of climate change on them.”

Well Tuilaepa couldn’t have said it better.

What do you think? 

Have a pleasant weekend Samoa, God bless!

© Samoa Observer 2016

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