Among a number of issues he raised in his recent visit to the United States, French President Emmanuel Macron pointedly appealed to the US to “come back and join the Paris agreement” which President Donald Trump rejected upon his election in 2016.
“We signed it at the initiative of the United States, “he said. “We signed it – both the United States and France…. I am sure one day, the US will come back and join the Paris Agreement. Let us face it. There is no Planet B.”
The world’s nations, including the Philippines, approved the Paris Climate Change Agreement in December, 2015, in the wake of fears that industrial emissions had raised global temperatures to such an extent that Antarctica’s icebergs were beginning to melt, ocean levels were beginning to rise, and typhoons and hurricanes were getting more powerful and destructive. Each of the 190 nations that signed the agreement submitted its own plan for its contribution to the overall goal of limiting the rise in world temperature to less than 2 degrees Celsius.
France had led the 2015 campaign that led to the agreement in Paris. French President Francois Hollande came to Manila in February that year to seek our support as the Philippines was considered a frontline state in the growing campaign against climate change, having been battered repeatedly by typhoons from the Pacific. The latest of these was the super-typhoon Yolanda which had left over 7,000 dead or missing in November, 2013.
One of Trump’s first acts as new president of the US, however, was to reject the agreement. He was putting “America First,” he said. He was thinking of the workers in America’s coal industry, which was beginning to suffer from the rise in the use of renewable energy in the world. With the US turning its back on the Paris Agreement, China and the European Union forged an alliance to lead in moving the world towards a low-carbon economy.
President Macron raised other important issues in his address before the US Congress – urging the US to stay in the Iran nuclear agreement, warning against ultra-nationalism, keeping US-Europe trade open, and preserving international institutions like the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
But it is the Paris Agreement on Climate Change that affects so many nations of the world, including the Philippines. Macron took the opportunity to appeal to the US to restore its support for this historic agreement to save the only planet we share. For there is indeed on other one for us all. There is no Planet B.