02 Jun 2017, 00:00
Benjamin Wehrmann Julian Wettengel

German reactions to US decision to withdraw from Paris Agreement

US President Donald Trump at the G7 summit in Italy. Photo: EU Council
US President Donald Trump at the G7 summit in Italy. Photo: EU Council
President Donald Trump has announced that he will pull the United States out of the landmark Paris Climate Agreement. The USA will be the first country to leave the seminal 2015 treaty signed by nearly 200 individual nations that agreed on keeping global warming well below two degrees Celsius. With his decision, Trump made good on an election campaign promise and rebuffed calls by government leaders from around the world to stay in the accord. CLEW provides first reactions from Germany.

Please note: This collection of reactions will be updated continuously.


Joint statement by the heads of state and of government of France, Germany and Italy:

“The Paris Agreement remains a cornerstone in the cooperation between our countries, for effectively and timely tackling climate change and for implementing the 2030 Agenda sustainable development goals. We deem the momentum generated in Paris in December 2015 irreversible and we firmly believe that the Paris Agreement cannot be renegotiated, since it is a vital instrument for our planet, societies and economies. We are convinced that the implementation of the Paris Agreement offers substantial economic opportunities for prosperity and growth in our countries and on a global scale. We therefore reaffirm our strongest commitment to swiftly implement the Paris Agreement, including its climate finance goals and we encourage all our partners to speed up their action to combat climate change.”


Chancellor Angela Merkel:

The decision “is extremely regrettable, to say the least. The Paris Agreement continues to be one of the cornerstones of cooperation between the world's countries, and this accord is indispensable in the realisation of the goals of the Agenda 2030. So after last night’s announcement by the US administration we have to look forward. This decision can and will not stop all of us who feel responsible to protect the earth. Quite to the contrary: more determined than ever before, we in Germany, in Europe and the world will combine all forces to take on the challenge for humanity – climate change – and master it successfully. (...) What we've started more than 20 years ago with (...) the Kyoto Protocol, the UN Climate Framework Convention and what has been continued in Paris one and a half years ago in a historic quantum leap, will lead to success. There's no doubt that it's going to be a bumpy road (...), but I'm convinced that it is irrevocable.”


Martin Schulz, Social Democratic (SPD) frontrunner for the federal elections:

"You can withdraw from a climate agreement but not from climate change, Mr. Trump. Reality isn't just another statesman you shove away." [Twitter]
“If we want to live up to our responsibilities towards our children and their children, then there is no reasonable alternative to a sustainable climate policy. That’s why I think it’s disastrous, if climate policy is sacrificed on the altar of short-term political and economic interests – which seems to be the combination for US President Trump.” [link to video]


Kurt Bock, CEO of BASF & Chair of B20 Energy, Climate & Resource Efficiency Taskforce

"I deeply regret the decision of the U.S. President to withdraw the Unites States from the Paris Climate Agreement. […] The Business 20, the official business dialogue to the G20, supports the Paris Climate Agreement and its implementation. We must now ensure that all other stakeholders live up to their commitments. These are already ambitious. The other 19 members of the G20 cannot compensate for U.S. commitments of greenhouse gas emissions. They should rather use the Summit in Hamburg in July to increase their cooperation on climate protection and confirm their remaining strong commitments. The Paris Climate is set to establish a consistent and predictable framework, which is necessary to foster market-oriented and cost-effective approaches to reducing CO2 emissions. In this way, we seek to ensure that the best solutions will be found to address climate change and its consequences, while guaranteeing competitiveness, economic growth, and jobs through business innovation." [statement]


Dieter Kempf, president of Federation of German Industries (BDI):

“The isolationist path of Donald Trump in climate policy is in opposition to the investment strategies of many companies in the USA and worldwide, which support the Paris Agreement. European governments must react level-headed and sensible. Europe and especially Germany have ambitious climate targets. The German industry stands by these targets in the future. Stepping up one’s own reduction targets now would be wrong. Climate protection is successful only through worldwide cooperation. Lacking reliability and predictability is poisonous for necessary global solutions. Now, the G20 countries that continue to stand by the Paris Agreement must work together more closely. They must prove that climate protection and good economic performance go hand in hand.”


Barbara Hendricks, federal environment minister:

“I regret this decision. Bigger than the damage to international climate protection is the damage to multilateralism. Because what’s special about Paris is that the community of nations decided to jointly tackle one of the world’s biggest problems. The US now said goodbye to this joint project. […] In terms of the implementation of the Paris Agreement, I continue to be optimistic. Because: The rest of the world stands by the Paris Climate Agreement. Over the past weeks we received many encouraging signals from Europe, China, Russia, India, Canada and many other countries.” [statement]


Eva Bulling-Schröter, Left Party’s energy and climate spokesperson

“Washington brutally stabs international law, negotiated for years, in the back; the federal government should earnestly review its cooperation with the egoistic climate deniers from the US and look for new partners. […] The EU and China coming closer together at the EU-China summit, also to work more closely on climate protection and renewable energy expansion, is a step in the right direction.”


Peter Altmaier, Chief of the German Chancellery

"The Paris Climate Agreement has united the world - to the sake of the planet and all of us. It will survive and succeed! Let's fight for it!" [Twitter]


Hermann Otto Solms, energy politician of the Free Democratic Party (FDP):

“The withdrawal by the second largest CO₂ emitter USA is a heavy setback for the Paris Agreement, which can hardly be compensated. One can hardly outdo the naivety and lack of reality if environment minister Barbara Hendricks or Green Member of the EU Parliament Rebecca Harms demand that Europeans should compensate for missing US emission reductions. Even if Germany were to be fully CO₂ emission-free in the future, it would hardly be felt on a global scale. We can only succeed in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions if everyone participates – especially China and the US.”


Camilla Bausch, Director of Ecologic Institute:

"President Trump's decision is a blow to global efforts to mitigate climate change. His comments also raise questions regarding issues like international financing commitments, research or the US climate targets. Yet: Trump is only the President. A lot will happen at subnational levels and in the economy, as we can see with renewable energy or mobility. And the rest of the world affirms the urgent need to act, the moral responsibility and the economic opportunities. It is about going forward with new alliances now, because the Paris Agreement demands collective action and raising the ambition. It remains a rocky road towards a climate-friendly and humane world, but Trump alone cannot stop the Paris train."


Jan Kowalzig, Oxfam, Climate Change & Climate Policy:

“The US president’s decision is a nasty kick in the back of global climate protection. To leave the Paris Climate Agreement is an intolerable act of ignorance with which Donald Trump isolates the USA and makes the world less stable and secure, only so that his friends from the fossil energy industry can continue to do their climate-harmful business. […] Now the rest of the world must step up efforts and promote the implementation of the agreement. That would be the best way to put the US back on a climate protection track and make Donald Trump be remembered as merely an unpleasant climate policy hiccup in history.”


Hans-Josef Fell, President of the Energy Watch Group (EWG):

"Donald Trump's ignorance on will severely damage the economics. Yet, e worldwide will only accelerate." [Twitter]


Andreas Kuhlmann, Chief Executive of the German Energy Agency (dena):

“A country that usually stands for innovation does not want to take part in the most fascinating and innovative industry policy project? It's hard to believe. This is a heavy blow for the international climate policy debate. However, it won't stop the global energy transition. Not even in the USA, as we know from many discussions we've had in the country with a variety of players.”


Claudia Kemfert, German Institute for Economic Research (DIW):

“Should Trump preserve energy technologies of the past, it would set the US back several years in the competition for climate-friendly technologies. And it will be expensive, as investing in the past means stranded investments. […] The US energy transition cannot be stopped, because companies more and more bet on the future, not on the past. […] Yet, the real loser is the global climate. Other countries will hardly be able to step in for necessary emissions reduction efforts. […] Trump is the wrecking ball for climate protection. […] The other countries will have to get used to negotiating without the US. There will be G6 and G19 decisions for climate protection. [German] Chancellor Angela Merkel will have to take on the leadership role for global climate protection.”


Thilo Schaefer, Cologne Institute for Economic Research (IW Köln):

"The US further isolates itself and loses its voice in future climate negotiations. Trump's decision is a heavy blow for international climate policy [...] It's a real problem that the US are not going to pay into the climate funds after the exit anymore; which is meant to help poorer countries to implement climate protection measures [...] But this is not the end of climate protection in the US: The federal states mostly make energy policy decisions themselves."


Sabine Nallinger, Foundation 2° (Stiftung 2°):

"A withdrawal by the US from the Paris Climate Agreement shows that the importance of businesses increases when it comes to achieving the climate targets. Companies in the US and beyond have to demonstrate that they seize the opportunities offered by climate protection and actively engage in transforming the economy. Because one thing is certain: Corporate climate protection is an innovation driver and a way for businesses to become competitive for the future."


Sabrina Schulz, E3G:

"European reactions to the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement so far are decisive: Germany, France, and Italy all stand united and behind the Paris Agreement. However, there is a real risk that European – not least German – businesses will lobby their governments to dilute or slow down their own decarbonisation efforts. The perennial pretext that climate action depends on a “level playing field” to preserve international competitiveness can erode the German government’s climate leadership and thereby trigger a domino effect. A similar development is likely in Canada where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s ambitious plans to price carbon and phase out coal are under attack from industry. The dependence of Canadian businesses from exports to the U.S. can therefore severely undermine Canada’s new-found climate leadership. Yet, if Germany, Canada and many other progressive countries give up on climate leadership this would be a slap in the face of all those in America who hold their ground on climate, be it in cities, states, business, academia or civil society. As important as new alliances are: we need the “old West” at the core of the Paris forcefield and must not give up on America. This President shall pass, too."


Christoph Bals, Policy Director of environmental NGO Germanwatch and member of the board at Climate-Alliance Germany:

“This decision is cynical. The biggest emitter, historically, rejects taking on responsibility for climate protection and the support for those affected most. The decision is stupid. The OECD just showed that it would be economic foolishness to renounce the energy transition. […] The back and forth is especially annoying for businesses active in the US. […] Chancellor Merkel is now tasked with orchestrating a clear commitment to an ambitious implementation of the Paris Agreement by 19 countries at the G20 summit. […] I see the decision as a short-term fluctuation over which we shake our heads today and probably laugh in a few years. Trump is right with one thing. Make America great again.”

All texts created by the Clean Energy Wire are available under a “Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY 4.0)” . They can be copied, shared and made publicly accessible by users so long as they give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made.
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