US climate decision leaves Europe incensed, dismayed

A picture taken on June 1, 2017, shows the City Hall of Paris illuminated in green following the announcement by US President Donald Trump that the United States will withdraw from the 2015 Paris accord and try to negotiate a new global deal on climate change. (AFP / GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT)
Updated 02 June 2017
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US climate decision leaves Europe incensed, dismayed

PARIS: European leaders and green groups reacted with anger and dismay after President Donald Trump announced Thursday that the United States, the world’s second biggest carbon emitter, was quitting the 2015 Paris Agreement.
But they also pledged to defend the agreement and not to backtrack in the fight against climate change.
In an exceptional step, continental Europe’s three biggest economies — Germany, France and Italy — issued a joint statement in which they criticized Trump’s decision and said the pact was “not renegotiable.”
“We note the United States’ decision with regret,” they said, describing the accord as “a vital tool for our planet, our societies and our economies.”
“We are firmly convinced that the agreement cannot be renegotiated,” they added, referring to part of the Trump announcement which said Washington was open to negotiating a new agreement.
Jean-Claude Juncker, head of the European Union’s executive Commission, lashed Trump’s decision as “seriously wrong.”
The body’s commissioner for climate action and energy Miguel Arias Canete also pledged continued “global leadership” on climate change.
“The EU deeply regrets the unilateral decision by the Trump administration,” he said in a statement.
“The Paris Agreement will endure. The world can continue to count on Europe for global leadership in the fight against climate change.
“Europe will lead through ambitious climate policies and through continued support to the poor and vulnerable,” he added.
In Berlin, Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed “regret” at the decision, and called for a continuation of “climate policies which preserve our world.”
Seven Social Democratic ministers in her coalition government said the United States “is harming itself, we Europeans and all the people of the world.”
In France, the Elysee presidential palace said newly-elected leader Emmanuel Macron had phoned Trump to say that “nothing was negotiable” in the Paris agreement.
France and the United States “would continue to work together,” but not on climate change, the presidential office said.
Paris city hall meanwhile said it would illuminate its building in green on Thursday “in a sign of disapproval” of Trump’s announcement and to recall the determination of cities around the world to fight climate change.
In Rome, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni urged against any retreat from fighting climate.
“Let’s not go backwards from the Paris Agreement,” he said on Twitter. “Italy is committed to reducing (carbon) emissions, to renewable energy, sustainable development.”

'Total discord'
Among environment groups, Climate Action Network said the withdrawal “signals that the Trump Administration is in total discord with both reality and the rest of the world.”
“Unfortunately, the first to suffer from this injudicious decision is the American people,” the group, an alliance of climate activists, said.
“This action is totally contrary to their best interests: their health, security, food supply, jobs and future.”
Friends of the Earth International said “pulling out of the Paris Agreement would make the US a rogue state on climate change. The rest of the world cannot let the US drag it down.”
Oxfam France branded the decision as “shameful and irresponsible, scorning people and world peace.”
Among the scientific community, Britain’s prestigious Royal Society said Trump’s decision would hamper US innovation in cleaner technology.
“The future is in newer, cleaner and renewable technologies, not in fossil fuels,” said the society’s president Venki Ramakrishnan.
“Such technologies will also help in our fight against air pollution and ensure greater energy security globally. President Trump is not putting America first, he is tethering it to the past.”


Britain’s opposition Labour backs new election over Brexit impasse

Updated 23 September 2018
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Britain’s opposition Labour backs new election over Brexit impasse

  • Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn has so far resisted calls to back a ‘People’s Vote,’ or new referendum on the decision to quit the EU
  • Brexit minister Dominic Raab again ruled out a new election, describing the suggestion as ‘for the birds’
LIVERPOOL: Britain’s opposition Labour Party prefers a new election to a second referendum on Brexit, its leader said on Sunday, heaping pressure on Prime Minister Theresa May whose plans for a deal with the EU have hit an impasse.
Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn has so far resisted calls to back a “People’s Vote,” or new referendum on the decision to quit the EU.
But the political landscape has changed since May was ambushed by the European Union on Thursday over her plans for Brexit — the biggest shift in British policy for more than four decades.
With talk of a new election swirling after May’s “Chequers” plan was all but shredded at an EU summit in Austria last week and chances of Britain exiting the bloc without a deal rising, Labour is under pressure to start setting the Brexit agenda.
Corbyn, a veteran euroskeptic who in 1975 voted “No” to Britain’s membership of the then-European Community, said that while he would listen to a debate about any possible second vote on Britain’s membership, he preferred a snap election if May failed to get a deal that Labour could support in parliament.
“Our preference would be for a general election and we can then negotiate our future relationship with Europe but let’s see what comes out of conference,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, saying Labour was ready to vote against any deal.
“We would vote it down if it didn’t meet our tests in order to send the government, if it is still in office, straight back to the negotiating table and if there is a general election and we are in office we would go straight to the negotiating table.”
Corbyn’s close ally, Len McCluskey, leader of Britain’s biggest trade union Unite, told the BBC any such second referendum “shouldn’t be on: ‘do we want to go back into the European Union?’” as that had been answered in the 2016 referendum.
Britain is to exit the EU in March. After weeks of both sides making positive noises about prospects of clinching a divorce deal and their future trading relationship, the mood turned sour on Thursday in Salzburg, Austria, when the bloc’s leaders, one by one, came out to criticize May’s Chequers plans.
A tacit agreement to try to offer her some support before she heads to what is going to be a difficult annual conference of her governing Conservative Party later this month was broken by some British diplomatic missteps.
May says she will hold her nerve in the talks, pressing the EU to come up with an alternative proposal to her Chequers plan, named after the prime minister’s country residence where a deal was hashed out with her top ministers in July.
But the impasse with the EU has prompted some to predict an early election, with local media reporting that May’s team has begun contingency planning for a snap vote in November to save both Brexit and her job.
Brexit minister Dominic Raab again ruled out a new election, describing the suggestion as “for the birds.” He said Britain would not “flit from plan to plan like some sort of diplomatic butterfly.”
“We are going to be resolute about this,” Raab added.
While saying she will stick to her guns, May might have little chance but to change tack after a party conference where the deep divisions over Europe that have riven her Conservatives for decades will be in plain sight.
A senior pro-EU Conservative lawmaker, Nicky Morgan, said May would have to give ground on trade and customs arrangements to overcome the biggest obstacle to a withdrawal accord — the prevention of a hard border between the British province of Northern Ireland and Ireland, a member of the EU.
“I am not sure there is life left in Chequers,” Morgan, chair of parliament’s Treasury Select Committee and a former cabinet minister under May’s predecessor, told Sky News.
“We want to see a deal. The question I think that has to be answered now by the government, by the EU leaders, is what room for movement is there, how do we move on from where we ended up last week?”