Asia Reacts to the US Withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord

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On June 1, 2017, Donald J. Trump formally announced the United States' withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord. The Accord, which has been signed by over 190 countries, is an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that would deal with greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, adaptation, and financing starting in 2020. Under President Barack Obama the United States joined the Accord in September 2016. 

Click on a country to jump down to its specific reactions: Australia, China, IndiaJapan, Malaysia, North KoreaPan-Asia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan

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Liberal members of the Australian government have praised President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord.  Their statements can be found in the video accompanying this article. 

“Australia's trade competitiveness was at risk without confidence in widespread international action, AI Group's CEO Innes Willox said. ‘Without a clear case for long-term investment we will wind up with an energy system that is simultaneously insecure, unaffordable and high-emitting,’ Mr Willox said.”

"‘The commitments we have made are in Australia's interests,’ Mr  [Malcolm] Turnbull [Prime Minister of Australia] said while on an official visit to Singapore today. He said Donald Trump's decision to pull out of the Paris agreement was not a surprise. ‘It was a very core campaign commitment of his,’ Mr Turnbull said. [Full remarks by Prime Minister Turnbull can be viewed in the video included in this article.]”  

"Countries are more likely to withdraw or renege on their actions because the US misses its target, eliminates its financing and reveals how weak the Paris Agreement really is. […] While the Paris Agreement is fragile, international climate action can be anti-fragile: the shock of Trump could make action stronger by allowing trade measures and new, emboldened leadership to blossom." – Dr. Luke Kemp, ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society

"If the US were committed to acting on climate change, the case for staying in the Paris Agreement would be clear. But given the current Administration's savage rollback of Obama-era climate policies, the choice is much tougher. Which is the lesser evil for global cooperation on climate change: to have a recalcitrant major power in the Agreement or out of it? […] But withdrawing from the Agreement altogether could be even worse. It will provide cover for reluctant countries to exit, water down their targets or simply fail to join, just as Australia used US non-participation as an excuse to stay out of the Kyoto Protocol. And the violation of trust resulting from US withdrawal could further jeopardise prospects for global cooperation on other priorities." – Dr. Jonathan Pickering, Visiting Fellow at the ANU Crawford School of Public Policy


“‘It is not appropriate to say China should assume a sole leadership role in the international community with the US withdrawal,’ Guo Jiaofeng, a senior environmental analyst at the Development Research Center of the State Council, a government think tank, told China Daily during the eighth Clean Energy Ministerial meeting on Tuesday."

"‘China will work with all relevant parties to enhance cooperation, press ahead with the negotiation and implementation of enforcement rules, and promote green, low-carbon and sustainable global growth.’" - Hua Chunying, Spokesperson, Chinese Foreign Ministry

“China will continue to work steadfastly to implement the commitment of the Paris climate deal and join hands with all parties to tackle climate change, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told reporters here [Germany] on Thursday. […]Combating climate change is a global consensus, said Li, adding that ‘with tremendous efforts, China will move towards the 2030 goal step-by-step steadfastly.’ China has actively participated in promoting and the signing of the Paris Agreement, Li said, adding that China was also one of the first countries to submit the file of national plan on dealing with climate change to the United Nations.”


“‘India signed the Paris agreement because of Indian culture and ethos and not under duress or out of greed (for monetary benefits). We are committed to the environment and this commitment is 5,000 years old.’” - Sushma Swaraj, External Affairs Minister, India 

“Trump withdrew from the Paris accord with a speech from the Rose Garden of the White House early Friday morning here that twice suggested the deal was loaded in favour of India and China. Trump said he would try to negotiate fresh conditions for the US to rejoin the pact. […]But the pullout and Trump's criticism of India have also deepened concerns within the foreign policy establishment that he may also demand fresh terms bilaterally for support in sectors ranging from defence to India's nuclear ambitions, officials and analysts said. ‘His (Trump's) approach everywhere is in terms of give and take alone,’ said Chintamani Mahapatra, professor of American studies and international security at Jawaharlal Nehru University. ‘He doesn't seem to understand - there are things that go beyond short-term gains.’"

“The American president was well aware of the domestic and global backlash that his announcement would trigger and he also knew well enough that he was giving his political rivals and fiercely adversarial media yet another chance to crucify him. Therefore he needed some ballast to justify his strange and illogical decision, and India, which made its joining of Paris Accord incumbent on aid from developed nations, came as a handy example. But we shouldn't read too much into it. For a country as large and aspirational, India's foreign policy cannot remain reactive or impulsive, as it has often been in the past. Our geopolitical moves must be the calm execution of a well-thought out, visionary plan, and under that construct, getting irked at Trump's shenanigans isn't an option. In the last few decades, India has spent too much diplomatic resources to grow strategically close to the US for the ties to be snapped at the altar of a maverick president. Our policy must allow for American domestic turbulence and make space for external repercussions of that turbulence.”

"‘Our government is committed irrespective of the stand of anyone, anywhere in the world. It has been the stand of Prime Minister Narendra Modi,’ said Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan, stressing that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had provided ‘leadership’ at the Paris summit. Expressing similar views, Power Minister Piyush Goyal in a statement said, ‘India under [Prime Minister Narendra] Shri Modi's leadership has taken up renewable energy as an article of faith and is steadfast on its Paris commitments, irrespective of what others do.’ ‘ India's resolve to take up the leadership of saving the planet from climate change while others abrogate their leadership,’ he said, further adding that India has led the focus on Sustainable lifestyles in Paris agreement.”

“‘Paris or no Paris, our commitment to preserving the climate is for the sake of future generations.’” – Narendra Modi, Prime Minister, India 


“Even members of the ruling parties voiced criticisms one after another about Trump’s announcement of the United States’ exit from the agreement. For example, Komeito Secretary General Yoshihisa Inoue said, ‘It runs counter to global countermeasures, and so it’s not understandable.’ […]Despite this, Japan is still hoping to try to persuade the United States on such occasions as a G-7 environment ministers meeting to be held in Italy on June 11 and 12.”

“Mutsuyoshi Nishimura, an environmental expert who has advised the Cabinet on global warming, said it is too early to know whether Trump’s decision will weaken international efforts to address climate change. ‘It’s unlikely the solidarity between countries under the Paris agreement will weaken even with the United States’ withdrawal,” he said. Instead, the remaining signatories might strengthen coordination or establish carbon pricing, Nishimura said. ‘Regardless of the stance of the Trump administration, Japan should start discussions toward implementing its own system” of carbon pricing, he said.’”

“Finance Minister Taro Aso was critical of the U.S. move, saying that the development of shale gas, which is abundant in North America, is the reason behind the decision. He suggested that the United States has abandoned its leadership role of taking into account the overall benefit to the global community. ‘The United States is no longer such a nation,’ Aso said.”

"‘As Japan was hoping to work with the United States within the framework of the Paris agreement, the announcement by the U.S. administration on its withdrawal from the Paris agreement is regrettable.’" – Fumio Kishida, Foreign Minister, Japan

"‘We had just sent a letter to the U.S. Embassy in Japan on June 1 asking America not to leave the Paris Agreement. I feel real anger that the world's second largest greenhouse gas emitter after China would ditch its responsibilities and throw away this historic pact.’" - Mitsutoshi Hayakawa, Managing Director, Citizens' Alliance for Saving Atmosphere and Earth, Osaka, Japan


“As the second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases globally at 18 per cent, and with a per-capita emissions level that far exceeds the global average, the US has a moral obligation to continue taking the lead in addressing climate change and its numerous impacts at the global scale’ […] ‘Therefore, as a significant global contributor to climate action, the withdrawal by the US also represents a serious curtailment of the needed means of implementation for developing countries to enhance adaptation measures and mitigation actions’ […] ‘Furthermore, the loss of US support will impede efforts by developing countries to build the needed capacity to undertake these actions and to enhance transparency of reporting on the achievement of their NDCs (nationally determined contributions).’” - Dato Sri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Malaysia 


“In a statement Tuesday, Pyongyang said Washington's move represented ‘the height of egoism and moral vacuum seeking only their own well-being, even at the cost of the entire planet.’ ‘The selfish act of the US does not only have grave consequences for the international efforts to protect the environment, but poses great danger to other areas as well,’ a spokesman for the North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, according to state news agency KCNA.”


"‘The withdrawal I think has huge repercussions for something that's taken quite a long time to put together.’ […] ‘It's pretty selfish, I think there's no other way to explain that’ […] ‘But in this case, the one with the greatest capacity to ensure justice is served is in fact becoming the bully.’" – Anote Tong, former President, Kiribati

“‘I am also convinced that the United States Government will eventually re-join our struggle because the scientific evidence of man-made climate change is well understood.’" - Frank Bainimarama, Prime Minister, Fiji

"‘Our children and their children deserve not only to survive but thrive. That is why the rest of the world remains firmly committed to the Paris Agreement, and our own commitment will never waiver.’" - Hilda Heine, President, Marshall Islands


“The National Climate Change Secretariat said on Friday that Singapore will continue contributing to the global effort to address climate change. ‘We believe that a global approach towards dealing with climate change is the best chance the international community has at effectively addressing its effects,’ the secretariat said. ‘We stand ready to work with all Parties and stakeholders to address this urgent challenge together.’"

"‘President Trump's pulling the US out of the Paris Agreement makes it more difficult for the world to meet the Paris Agreement's goal of keeping global temperature rises under 2 deg C, given that the US is the second largest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions. Singapore will likely have to deal with adverse effects of climate change that may occur sooner should the US' emissions trajectory take an upward turn.’" - Melissa Low, Research Fellow, National University of Singapore's (NUS) Energy Studies institute


"‘It is regrettable in that the global solidarity and efforts for (a better) response to climate change has been undermined due to the U.S. decision to withdraw from the Paris accord,’ a ministry official said. He noted that South Korea will ‘faithfully’ carry out what is regarded as a historic deal, adding that the Seoul government hopes the international community will continue to support it.”


“The US’ decision to back out of the Paris agreement has implications for Taiwan. First, it is clear that Trump views China as the US’ primary economic and military competitor and threat, and he is clearly unhappy about China benefiting from US concessions in the Paris agreement. Second, Trump, who deeply believes in his own campaign slogan to “make America great again,” will place even more emphasis on Taiwan’s importance to US national security. In addition, only a strong US will be able to protect Taiwan.Third, if Taiwan can improve its economic ties with the US, the Trump administration will also place more emphasis on the nation’s economic stability. Fourth, Taiwan also has a serious problem with its high carbon emissions. The US’ decision to withdraw from the Paris agreement will lighten the pressure on Taiwan to reduce its carbon emissions, which will be helpful to the nation’s plan to phase out nuclear power by 2025.”

“‘We have noticed this important decision by U.S. President Trump, and we will pay attention to the impact of that decision on the international community and on Taiwan,’ Presidential Spokesman Alex Huang (黃重諺) said Friday. […] Since Taiwan is also making efforts to achieve the carbon emission reduction aims put forward by the international community, ‘our efforts will not change just because the U.S. are withdrawing from the climate change agreement,’ Huang said.”

Additional Topics in the Asia Reacts to... Series

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter's Trip to India and the Philippines
Secretary of State John Kerry's Historic Visit to Hiroshima
Donald Trump's Comments on Possible Nuclear Armament of Japan and South Korea
 Nominations of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump 
 Donald Trump's First Foreign Policy Speech
 President Barack Obama's First Visit to Vietnam
President Barack Obama's Historic Visit to Hiroshima
 Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Fourth Visit to the United States
 Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) Deployment
2016 Democratic and Republican National Conventions
President Barack Obama's Final Trip to Asia 
 First Presidential Debate of the 2016 US Election
Second Presidential Debate of the 2016 US Election
 Final Presidential Debate of the 2016 US Election
 Election of Donald Trump as 45th President of the United States
President-Elect Donald Trump's Talks with Asian Leaders
 The Inauguration of Donald J. Trump 
President Donald Trump's  Executive Order on the Trans-Pacific Partnership
 President Donald Trump's First Visit to Asia


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