Thursday

20th Feb 2020

Juncker mauls Trump ahead of climate decision

  • Juncker (l) spoke on a visit to Germany (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker said US leader Donald Trump does not know what he is doing on climate ahead of Trump's decision on the Paris accord.

He said in Berlin on Wednesday (31 May) that Trump did not “fully understand” the Paris climate deal even though EU leaders tried to “explain” it to him “in clear, simple sentences” at a recent summit in Italy.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Merkel (c) said EU could no longer depend on US after Italy talks (Photo: G7 Summit)

He also said it would take the US four years to exit the pact even if Trump announced the U-turn, as feared, on Thursday.

“This notion - ‘I'm Trump. I'm American. America first, so I’m going to get out of it.’ - that's not going to happen", Juncker said at an event in the German capital organised by a German employers’ group, the BDA.

"We tried to explain this in clear, simple sentences to Mr Trump in Taormina [Italy], but it would appear that he didn’t understand".

“Mr. Trump … doesn’t get close enough to the dossiers to fully understand them”, the EU Commission chief said.

Trump announcement

Trump is to announce his decision on Paris, a 197-nation accord to slow global warming, in the White House rose garden at 3PM local time (9PM in Brussels) on Thursday.

He told reporters on Wednesday that he had not yet made up his mind.

“I’m hearing from a lot of people both ways, both ways,” he told press after meeting the Vietnamese prime minister in Washington.

The US is the world’s second biggest greenhouse gas emitter after China.

Its exit from the Paris accord would make it “far more likely that we will breach the danger limit” on global warming, according to Michael Oppenheimer, a US scientist who was part of a UN panel that established the scientific consensus on climate change.

“We will see more extreme heat, damaging storms, coastal flooding, and risks to food security,” Oppenheimer told the New York Times, a US newspaper, on Wednesday.

Antonio Tajani, the European Parliament president, said: “Climate change is not a fairy tale”.

“People die or are obliged to leave their homes because of desertification, lack of water, exposure to disease, extreme weather conditions".

China pledge

The EU and China, at a summit in Brussels on Friday, plan to reaffirm their commitment to Paris no matter what Trump says.

Top EU officials, including Juncker, and Chinese prime minister Li Keqiang, plan to say in a joint statement that “The EU and China underline their highest political commitment to the effective implementation of the Paris Agreement in all its aspects”.

The draft communique, which was leaked to press on Wednesday, added: “The Paris Agreement is proof that with shared political will and mutual trust, multilateralism can succeed in building fair and effective solutions”.

The EU Council president, Donald Tusk, also said in a tweet to Trump: “Please don't change the (political) climate for the worse.”

If Trump did pull out, the US would join Nicaragua and Syria as the only non-Paris states on the world stage.

It takes a country four years to withdraw under the terms of the treaty, but the US could shorten that to one year by exiting from an underlying UN accord from 1992.

Coal lobby

Trump's decision comes amid pressure by the US coal lobby.

Coal firms such as Murray Energy and coal producing states such as Kentucky and West Virginia have urged him to abandon the Paris commitments.

On the other side, parts of the US could opt in to the treaty, according to Jerry Brown, the governor of California, speaking in the Los Angeles Times, a US newspaper, on Thursday.

“California will do everything it can not only to stay the course but to build more support in other states”, he said.

US oil and gas firms Exxon Mobil and ConocoPhillips urged Trump to stay in the Paris club so that he could shape its future actions.

CEOs from 24 leading US firms, including tech giants Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft also urged him to stay.

For their part, scientists at Swansea and Aberystwyth universities in the UK warned that rising temperatures will shortly see a huge iceberg split from Antarctica.

The researchers, who are monitoring the so called Larsen C ice shelf, said on Thursday there was just 12km of ice left before a crack broke off a piece of ice two times the size of Juncker’s home country, Luxembourg.

Juncker keen to build EU 'bridge' to Trump

The European Commission wants to “build bridges” between the EU and the US amid the negative fallout from last week’s meetings, it has said.

US leaves Paris climate deal

Trump said Paris deal “punishes the United States”, even though treaty leaves it up to nations to determine own climate contribution.

EU set for new Libya naval mission

Foreign ministers reached a political agreement to create a new EU naval force to replace Operation Sophia. It aims to enforce an UN arms embargo on Libya and operate in area where migrants do not take boats.

Luxembourg takes EU lead on Palestine recognition

Luxembourg has stepped up efforts to coordinate an EU reaction to the risk Israel will annex Palestinian territories - but European recognition of Palestine remains a dim prospect.

Commission backtracks after Western Sahara 'mistake'

Just hours of publication, the EU Commission removed from the European Parliament's website a response by one of its own commissioners on the Western Sahara, a disputed territory annexed by Morocco.

News in Brief

  1. EU unveils white paper on AI and data strategy
  2. Dutch court rules against Russia in €46bn Yukos case
  3. Britain to bar 'Polish plumber-type' migrants
  4. Greece seeks EU help to get back classical statues from UK
  5. HSBC to cut 35,000 jobs worldwide
  6. Regions chief appeals against cutting EU cohesion funds
  7. Verhofstadt criticises UK Brexit negotiator
  8. Turkish court acquits Gezi park activists

Opinion

Trump's 'plan' for Israel will go against EU values

As someone who has been personally targeted by Benjamin Netanyahu's incitement against Arabs and Palestinians, Christians, Muslims and Druze, I still believe that peace is possible. But Donald Trump's 'plan' will be a gift to Netanyahu's campaign.

China spy suspect worked for EU for 30 years

The former EU ambassador suspected by German prosecutors of spying for China was Gerhard Sabathil, according to EU officials speaking on condition of anonymity.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersScottish parliament seeks closer collaboration with the Nordic Council
  2. UNESDAFrom Linear to Circular – check out UNESDA's new blog
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December

Latest News

  1. EU leaders face major clash on rule of law budget link
  2. North Macedonia warns EU on 'dirtiest ever' election
  3. Western 'endarkenment' and the voodoo politics of Europe
  4. Warning of agricultural 'digital arms race' in EU
  5. Cayman Islands put on tax-haven blacklist after Brexit
  6. Boris' Brexit bluff? - UK will resist alignment to the end
  7. US still open to Kosovo-Serbia land swap
  8. EU countries enter final phase of budget talks

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us