A crow flies over a pile of coal. Trump wants to boost the U.S. coal industry, after announcing his decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement. Photo: Luke Sharrett / Bloomberg / Getty

By Jeff Tollefson and Quirin Schiermeier
2 June 2017

(Nature) – Nature rounds up reaction from researchers around the world to US President Donald Trump's decision to pull the United States out of the Paris climate agreement.

Jane Lubchenco, marine ecologist at Oregon State University in Corvallis and former administrator of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:

Where to start? President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement shows a blatant disregard for the wishes of most Americans and business leaders, an irresponsible and callous dismissal of the health, safety and economic well-being of Americans, a moral emptiness in ignoring impacts to the poorest people in the US and around the world, and gross ignorance about overwhelming scientific evidence. Far from “protecting America” as the president stated, withdrawing from Paris will make America more vulnerable and diminish its world leadership. It is terrifying that the individual who should be leading the rest of the world is so arrogant and irresponsible.

Our collective future and that of much of the rest of life on Earth depends in part on confronting climate change and ocean acidification. Doing so requires global collective action. It’s hard to imagine anyone consciously choosing to leave a legacy of impoverishment, economic disruption, increasingly bizarre weather, health impacts ranging from heat strokes to spread of diseases, rising sea levels and flooding — but that is just what the president has done. Moreover, the new path and the president’s proposed budget would forego significant economic opportunities.[…]

Thomas Stocker, former co-chair of climate science for the IPCC, and climate and environmental physicist at the University of Bern, Switzerland:

Trump’s decision to ignore scientific facts of climate disruption and the high risks of climate-change impacts is irresponsible not only towards his own people but to all people and life on this planet. The US administration prefers old technology over innovation and transformation. It is rejecting the enormous benefits and returns that leadership in the next industrial revolution — decarbonization — has to offer.

The United States is the second-biggest emitter of carbon dioxide worldwide (and has contributed, with Europe, 52% of the share of cumulative carbon emissions since industrialization). It is withdrawing from its historical responsibility to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and lead the way forward. Given the continuous commitment of most countries to reduce emissions, and the firm leadership of Europe, China and Russia in shaping the transformation towards a decarbonized economy, the United States runs the risk of being left behind and missing one of the greatest economic opportunities of our time.

Susan Lozier, oceanographer at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina:

Trump’s decision is as short-sighted as it is disheartening. The oceans already hold about 35% of the carbon dioxide that has been released to the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution. Nothing good for the ocean and the life it contains comes from this storage. Whether you simply admire marine life or count on it for your livelihood, this decision shouldn’t sit well. An already fragile ocean is further imperilled. […]

Katharine Hayhoe, director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University in Lubbock:

The biggest loser from the decision could be the United States itself. Why? Because although the Paris agreement is a climate treaty, a triumph for evidence-based decision-making, it’s also much more: a trade agreement, an investment blueprint and a strong incentive for innovation in the energy and the economy of the future.

Earlier this week, India broke its own record for the lowest bids for electricity from solar power. Last month, Ernst & Young listed its most attractive markets for renewables: the United States came third, behind China and India. And earlier this year, China announced a US$360-billion investment in clean energy to create 13 million new jobs. The US announcement shows that it will be doing its best to turn back the clock, while the rest of the world accelerates into the future. [more]

How scientists reacted to the US leaving the Paris climate agreement

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