In a recent interview with the Guardian, former UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon said the US decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord poses serious problems for the rest of the world’s efforts to address climate change. In particular, Ban noted that the move would create political obstacles to efforts to provide aid from richer countries to help developing nations adapt to and cope with the effects of climate change.
“United States is a big problem now. I think the United States’ decision to withdraw from this Paris agreement really creates a serious problem. They have given serious damage to the political side. All the countries are very serious and concerned about this.”
However, Trump did indicate in a January interview that the US may not follow through with its plans to withdraw, adding to other mixed signals from the administration last year. Ban attributed this new reversal to efforts by the French President, Emmanuel Macron, to convince Trump to remain in the agreement. But he also said the recent Trump remarks were unclear. Ban said he hoped Trump would ultimately take the advice of pro-Paris figures such as Macron.
“What President Trump has been saying is politically shortsighted and scientifically based on wrong advice; I don’t know who advised him,” he said.
Ban noted that the decision was especially damaging to efforts to deliver $100 billion annually in climate change aid to the world’s poorest, most imperiled nations. The US would normally provide one third of the funding to the committees in charge of this assistance.
Ban also noted concerns about the ability of European leaders to step up as leaders on the issue in the face of political division over issues such as the refugee crisis and Brexit, but said he still hoped Macron and Merkel would stand firm on climate change action.
But he did mention hopes that the private sector could take on a larger role in climate change action, and said he was working with Jim Yong Kim, the president of the World Bank, former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, and former UN climate chief Christiana Figueres to find the best path forward. Ban also praised China’s commitment on the issue, noting that President Xi Jinping was fully committed to climate action when the two met and discussed the issue last November.
He also praised the “We Are Still In” coalition, a group of US cities, states, and private companies that plan to continue working toward the targets laid out the in the Paris agreement, and said he is still confident the world will meet keep temperature increases within the 2C limit set by the Paris accord.