Trump prides himself as being the ultimate deal maker - but he just broke one of the best deals we had

The President has got this wrong - badly wrong

Andrew Buncombe
New York
Friday 02 June 2017 01:38 BST
(AFP/Getty Images)

For the past three decades or more, Donald Trump has literally marketed himself as the master of the deal.

No negotiation was so tough, no situation so seemingly unwinnable, that he - and he alone - could turn it around. He even wrote books about it, or at least have someone write them for him.

As Trump finally announced what everyone in the world had been fearing, that he would withdraw the US from the hard-won international accord on climate changes, he sought to frame it in terms of fixing a bad deal.

Trump pulls US out of Paris climate change deal

Although the 2015 Paris Accord, signed by 195 countries, was non-binding and merely asked nations to pledge to meet targets on reducing carbon emissions, he claimed the agreement signed by his predecessor, Barack Obama, was “unfair” to American workers.

“We’re getting out,” said Trump, standing in the Rose Garden of the White House.

He said the move represented “a reassertion of American sovereignty”, but he also claimed - good branding here from the former reality TV host who sometimes appears to think it’s all still simply about entertainment - that he was prepared for the US to reenter the deal if there were “better terms” to be had.

Alternatively, he said he was open to a “a new transaction on terms that are fair to the United States, its businesses, its workers, its people, its taxpayers”.

This is make believe. The 2015 Paris Agreement was far from perfect for a variety of different reasons, but the truth is, it was almost certainly the best deal that the US, and the rest of the world, was going to get.

It was non-binding, and it did allow different countries to establish their own targets, but crucially, at at time when the evidence of a warming planet is clear for all to see, it was an agreement that involved every nation.

That is not entirely true. Two countries did not sign the accord. One of them, Nicaragua, chose not to do so because it did not believe the terms were tough enough.

The other was Syria, a nation that has for the past six years been ripped apart by a bloody civil that has killed more than 500,00 people and either displaced, or made refugees of, more than 10 million others. Bashar Al-Assad and Daniel Ortega are now Donald Trump’s companions in this select group of world leaders to have turned their backs on the rest.

It is not all bad news. Of key importance, China and India, the world largest populations and the first and fourth overall emitters of carbon dioxide respectively, are sticking with the deal hammered out in France, and are on target to easily exceed the targets they set for themselves in the 2015. Moreover, these two countries, China especially, are taking up leadership role, as the US cedes the one it formerly occupied. Indeed, it was Chinese President Xi Jinping who urged world leaders to hold with the Paris agreement, when he spoke at the World Economic Forum in Davos earlier this year.

“All signatories should stick to it instead of walking away from it, as this is a responsibility we must assume for future generations,” he said.

But aside from the impact that Trump’s decision will have on the US’s total emissions, there is no escaping the detrimental impact Trump’s decision may have. Other countries who were not entirely happy with what was agreed in Paris, may decide they too can pull out and wait for a better deal.

Its difficult to understand exactly why Trump decided to act as he did. He spoke on the campaign trail on climate science as a hoax and of his wish to restore the country’s mining industry.

But since then, a volley of voices, from his eldest daughter to this Defence Secretary and the leaders of business and even companies such as ExxonMobil, urged him to stick with Paris. They argued that if the US was not at the table, it would not be part of the conversation.

As for restoring the mining industry to its former primacy, very few people, including most of the country’s remaining minters, believe that will happen.

Was Trump trying to be clever? Did he like to keep everyone waiting? Was he upset all those nasty Europeans asking him to stick with it?

For all his bragging as the ultimate deal maker, in the five months that Trump has occupied the Oval Office, he has shown himself to be anything but. He messed up the Executive Order on the Muslim Travel ban, his repeal of Obamacare was little short of a shambles. His administration appears to be beset by rivalries, and leaks that he is unable to contain.

It may simply be that, blinded by all his talk of America First and Steve Bannon’s insurgent nationalism being whispered in his ear, Donald Trump, when presented with a deal of existential consequences, simply got it wrong

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