Hervé Kempf

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Mr. Trump’s decision on climate threatens world peace

The geopolitical consequences of the American decision to exit the Paris agreement are serious since what’s in play with climate change is, in fact, world peace.

Donald Trump’s decision, announced June 1, to leave the Paris Agreement is one of overwhelming gravity. It will have destructive consequences for global peace, already fragile and ailing in many areas of the globe.

The United States is abandoning the sole treaty which unifies the international community on a vitally important issue. That act alone weakens the ideal of communal peace. The world’s premier power flaunts its rejection of global responsibility so as to attend to its own concerns only. That attitude creates a vacuum that leads to instability. In geopolitics, instability means danger.

Moreover, it’s obvious that the struggle against climate change will flag. The precedent exists : in 2001, Georges W. Bush decided that the United States would not abide by the Kyoto protocol, signed in 1997. That decision gutted the protocol ; greenhouse gas emissions significantly increasing during all the 2000s. In the same way, the timid advances of the Paris agreement will lose their potency, first, because Mr. Trump’s US will shamelessly use fossil fuels, then, because other parties to the agreement will feel themselves less obligated. Russian diplomacy immediately cottoned on : all the while affirming that Russia would remain bound by the Paris Agreement, Kremlin spokesman Dimitri Pestkov, stated that, « It goes without saying that the effectiveness of this convention is likely to be reduced without its key participants. »

This situation increases the probabilities of wars and tension for two main reasons.

On the one hand, the United States’ position should lead to an increase in its greenhouse gas emissions – and other countries will also undoubtedly loosen the reins. In a situation where it already seems extremely difficult between now and 2050 to avoid 2 °C warming compared to the pre-industrial era, Mr. Trump’s decision increases the probability of significant warming. And that will lead to a predictable cortege of droughts, floods, storms, damaging the food and environmental situation in many countries, which will create new instabilities, massive migrations, conflicts, terrorism, etc.

On the other hand, Mr. ; Trump’s policy is to eliminate all possible constraints to the exploitation of fossil energies on US soil (oil and gas fracking, drilling in Alaska or in the sea), to maintain an economic system of continuous growth. In that regard also, this refusal to temper the trajectory will lead other countries – and not insignificant ones – to maintain their goals for growth and robust consumption of fossil fuels and raw materials. In a world where, inexorably, resources will become scarcer, the search for resources will lead to rivalry for access, therefore to conflicts.

Moreover, it is significant that another decision taken by Mr. Trump in February was to increase the United States’ military spending. It is already enormous :

The United States’ military expenditures of over 600 billion dollars a year exceed those of the next eight countries put together as well as the expenditures of all other countries besides these nine.

Mr. Trump wants to increase military expenditures over every year of his term. These already-enormous expenditures had been significantly increased by Mr. Bush before Barack Obama began a slight decrease :

United States’ Military Expenditures between 2001 and 2020 (in billions of dollars).

It’s possible to counter the bad tendencies impelled by the United States which have become a threat to world peace. We’d need a truly unified Europe that would know how to break its relationship of intellectual and cultural dependency on the US. We’d also need that Europe to exit the productivist system - which is possible only by convincingly reducing inequalities and the power of markets.

This does not seem to be the direction taken by the European ruling classes. World peace is in danger.


  • Written by Hervé Kempf
  • Translated by Leslie Thatcher.


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