China, EU reaffirm commitment as US backs out

BEIJING/OSLO • Nations led by China and the European Union rallied around a global plan to slow climate change after United States President Donald Trump began undoing Obama-era plans for deep cuts in US greenhouse gas emissions.

Mr Trump's order on Tuesday, keeping a campaign promise to bolster the US coal industry, strikes at the heart of the international Paris Agreement in 2015 to curb world temperatures that hit record highs last year for the third year in a row.

Many nations reacted to Mr Trump's plan with dismay and defiance, saying a vast investment shift from fossil fuels to clean energy such as wind and solar power is under way, with benefits ranging from less air pollution to more jobs.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang, whose government cooperated closely with former US president Barack Obama's administration on climate change, said all countries should "move with the times".

"No matter what other countries' policies on climate change, as a responsible large developing country China's resolve, aims and policy moves in dealing with climate change will not change," he said.

European Climate Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete said: "We see the Paris Agreement and the transition to a modern, more innovative economy as the growth engine of job creation, investment opportunities and economic prosperity."

German Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks warned Washington it could lose out.

"A shift into reverse (gear) now will only hurt themselves in terms of international competitiveness," she told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily.

In London, a spokesman for the British Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy reaffirmed Britain's commitment to tackling global climate change.

Speaking in Brussels, former Brazilian environment minister Izabella Teixeira said Mr Trump's decision was a mistake.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 30, 2017, with the headline 'China, EU reaffirm commitment as US backs out'. Print Edition | Subscribe