The world was shocked by the outcome of the 2016 US presidential election, which Donald Trump won contrary to prior expectations. His “US First” approach had multiple effects on US foreign policies; the issue of global warming is among them, in clear contrast with the Obama administration.
The Paris Agreement was reached through close collaboration between President Obama, who wanted to leave a political legacy in the global warming issue, and President Xi Jinping, who wanted to demonstrate “responsible, great power” while tackling the air pollution problem. On the other hand, Mr. Trump had pledged to increase domestic energy production, reduce energy cost, and cancel President Obama’s personal commitment to the Paris Agreement on the grounds that the global warming issue was a hoax. The Trump administration has undoubtedly brought about serious implications to the US’ engagement in global cooperation for tackling climate change.
Since his arrival at the White House, President Trump has revoked energy and climate policies introduced by the Obama administration, such as the Clean Power Plan and the enhanced CAFÉ standard. In June 2017, he announced the US’ withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on the grounds that it would have a negative impact on the American economy and employment, and that allowing China to increase their emissions while demanding that the US should reduce theirs would not be fair. This was the second time that the US withdrew from a global environment agreement since the Bush administration’s decision to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol in 2001. However, before this announcement, there had been a heated debate within the Trump administration as to whether the US should leave or stay. This book illustrates how such debate developed, and what impact could be expected on the global endeavor for tackling climate change based on a series of interviews with experts close to the Trump administration, former government officials in the Obama administration, and others. It also discusses how Japan should tackle climate issues under such circumstances.
The Paris Agreement was a thorny issue at the G20 in 2019, chaired by Japan. In the forthcoming 2020 US presidential election, Democratic candidates are focusing heavily on climate change in order to distinguish their stance from that of the Trump administration. This book could offer useful insights into understanding the deep rift in US policies regarding climate change.
(Written by ARIMA Jun, Professor, Graduate School of Public Policy / 2020)