U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement will hurt his own people first and puts his country at odds with the world, several Italian experts agreed Friday.
In his announcement Thursday, Trump said he wants to free domestic oil and coal industries from the constraints of the Paris deal, which went into effect in 2016.
However, his decision will penalize U.S. renewable and alternative energies companies, which operate in a fast-growing sector that is posting gains around the world.
In terms of revenue, the global renewable energy market is expected to increase to 777.6 billion U.S. dollars by 2019, with an annual growth rate of 10.3 percent in 2014-2019, according to analysts at Business Wire.
“A large part of the U.S. economy disagrees with (Trump’s) choice,” Greenpeace Italy director Giuseppe Onufrio said in a televised interview.
“The Paris Agreement was based not only on the justified concern of the scientific community (but also) on an underlying U.S.-China accord worth 1 trillion U.S. dollars to promote renewable and alternative energy sources,” Onufrio pointed out.
“One thing Trump cannot do — he cannot change the cost dynamics of the alternative and renewable sector. Today, even maritime wind power costs less than coal,” he said.
The Paris Agreement provides for technology transfer and financing from developed to developing countries to convert economies to sustainable energy, among other measures.
“The climate challenge is primarily one of industrial innovation,” said Onufrio. “By combining U.S. and European innovation with the volume of China’s market, costs will decrease very rapidly.”
He added investments to be made over the next 25 years under the Paris Agreement, which has so far been ratified by 147 countries out of the 197 that signed on, amount to what is “perhaps the biggest deal of the century.”
Antonello Pasini, a climatologist from Italy’s National Research Council (CNR), said, “Trump lacks a vision of the global market that would allow the United States to also come on board this winning train.”
“His defensive line — America First — is obviously a losing one, because the United States can’t drive a train on its own while the rest of the world is going in another direction,” the Italian climatologist said.
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He pointed out that the U.S. scientific community, the majority of its public opinion, and a large part of its industrial sector are heading in a different direction from the nation’s president.
“Trump risks isolation,” Pasini said. “His statements are not based on scientific data, and they are anachronistic” because they defend technologies such as petrol-consuming cars, that are being left behind around the world.
Raimondo Orsini, director of the Foundation for Sustainable Development, said Trump’s announcement may or may not lead to a U.S. exit from the Paris Agreement.
“It remains to be seen if this move … is just a way for (Trump) to say ‘you must deal with me now — let’s start over, go back 10 years’,” Orsini told RAI public broadcaster.
“I think this will open a significant diplomatic phase, in which he will want to be center stage.”
Orsini, whose foundation was set up by a number of recycling and green economy companies in Italy, also took issue with Trump’s argument that one degree of global warming is nothing to worry about.
“Adding one degree means an enormous number of human victims, of economic damage,” Orsini said, pointing out that the U.S. itself suffers from hurricanes and floods of increased frequency and fierceness, due to climate change.
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“Hurricane Katrina (of 2005) caused devastation and economic damage far in excess of what Trump says the U.S. would lose if it stayed true to the Paris Agreement,” Orsini pointed out.
The climate challenge is the challenge of the century and a winnable one, according to the Greenpeace chief.
“We have the technological resources to do so, we have the financial resources to do so — the only scarce resource is time,” Onufrio said.
The expert consensus seems to be that Trump’s decision will harm key domestic industries and his own people, but it won’t stop the rest of the world from going green.