Roseanna Cunningham vows to continue working with individual US states to fight climate change
The Scottish Government’s statement came after the leaders of France, Germany and Italy released a joint statement denouncing Donald Trump’s move
Roseanna Cunningham - credit: David Anderson
Roseanna Cunningham has vowed to continue working with individual US states to mitigate the effects of climate change, despite US President Donald Trump announcing his intention to withdraw the US from the Paris climate change agreement.
The Scottish Government’s statement came after the leaders of France, Germany and Italy released a joint statement denouncing Trump’s move, while pledging to continue their “strongest commitment” to the agreement, which is centred around efforts to keep global temperature rises to below 2C.
A number of US state governors announced their intention to ignore Trump’s decision and continue efforts to reduce emissions.
Responding to Trump, who suggested the US could possibly re-join the accord if it was offered more favourable terms, Cunningham reaffirmed the Scottish Government’s commitment, saying ministers would continue to work to ensure Scotland continues to benefit from the EU’s powerful voice on climate.
The French, German and Italian leaders rejected Trump’s call for the agreement to be renegotiated, saying “it is a vital instrument for our planet, societies and economics”. Theresa May faced criticism after failing to sign the letter condemning the President’s decision.
While May expressed disappointment with the move, Nicola Sturgeon accused the Prime Minister of an "appalling abdication of leadership".
Cabinet Secretary for Climate Change Roseanna Cunningham said: “This news is bitterly disappointing and deeply frustrating but we must not forget nations, states and cities around the world remain resolutely committed to the fight against climate change.
“Scotland itself has committed to work jointly with California, as part of the Under 2 Coalition, which covers over a billion people and a third of the global economy. That work will continue.
“It is also important to remember the important role played by the European Union in global climate negotiations. As we have previously made clear we will continue to work to ensure Scotland continues to benefit from the EU’s powerful voice.
“The need for international co-operation is greater than ever and will be vital if we are to prevent the most serious effects of climate change by limiting average global temperature rises to well below two degrees Celsius.”
Scottish NGOs also questioned the decision. Friends of the Earth Scotland director Dr Richard Dixon accused Trump of “rolling back decades of progress on social and environmental issues”, while WWF Scotland acting director Sam Gardner said that while the US withdrawal will “impact our climate trajectory, it will not define its final outcome”.
The Paris accord committed 188 countries to action aimed at keeping global temperature rises "well below" 2C, with the US joining Syria and Nicaragua as the only countries in the world to reject the agreement.
The US is the world’s second largest emitter of greenhouse gases.
A Downing Street spokesman said: "President Trump called the Prime Minister this evening to discuss his decision to pull the US out of the Paris Agreement.
"The Prime Minister expressed her disappointment with the decision and stressed that the UK remained committed to the Paris Agreement, as she set out recently at the G7.
"She said that the Paris Agreement provides the right global framework for protecting the prosperity and security of future generations, while keeping energy affordable and secure for our citizens and businesses."
Dixon said: “While Trump takes the US backwards, in Scotland we are looking to increase our ambition with a new climate bill expected later this year. We are living in what's been dubbed decade zero for the planet as we face the greatest crisis humanity has ever known. The choices we make now will determine whether our planet can continue to sustain life as we know it.
“In Scotland we have a chance to demonstrate that it is possible to cut our carbon emissions and at the same time create a fairer and more equal society. With strong action on climate change, we can send a strong message of hope and do our fair share in the global community.
Gardner said: “The global economy is moving ever more towards a renewable energy future, and the massive economic opportunities this presents. While Trump tries to isolate the US from these opportunities, Europe, China and India are moving ahead with building clean energy economies, ditching climate-trashing fossil fuels and creating jobs. In fact, in 2016, renewable energy accounted for just under 10million jobs worldwide, while in Scotland there are now over 58,000 jobs in the low carbon and renewable energy sectors.
“Even in the US, renewables jobs already dwarf employment in fossil fuels and that’s why states, cities and businesses across the US are forging ahead with their commitments to clean energy.
“With an upcoming Climate Change Bill, Scotland has the opportunity to be at the cutting edge of delivering the increased action and ambition that over 190 countries agreed to in the Paris Climate Change Agreement. Doing so would not only fulfil a moral obligation but open up multiple economic opportunities for Scotland.”
Greener UK chair Shaun Spiers said: “There is now a real danger that the UK will leave the EU without a deal or consciously pivot towards countries with lower environmental standards.”
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