From the impeachment move to climate change via the concerted stand of Asean, the Trump administration has extended the loop of isolationist diplomacy. Having alternately ignored or denied a climate crisis, Tuesday’s signal to the comity of nations marks the formal exit of the United States of America from the climate agreement concluded in Paris in 2015. It is hard not to wonder whether Donald Trump’s US really believes in the phenomenon of climate change and environmental degradation.

The attitude is of a piece with the callous indifference of the authorities to the pollution that has necessitated a public health emergency in Delhi and the National Capital Region. In the net, the US is the only country in the world that will not participate in the pact, as global temperatures are set to rise 3 degrees Celsius, not to mention the worsening extreme weather that could drive millions into poverty. The document sent by the US government to withdraw begins a one-year process for exiting the deal agreed to at the UN climate change conference in Paris.

The Trump administration will not be able to finalize its exit until a day after the presidential election in November 2020. In the immediate aftermath of the White House announcement, the response of China and France is a virtual rebuff to Trump. The French presidential office has let it be known that Emmanuel Macron and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, will sign a pact in Beijing that will highlight the “irreversibility” of the Paris climate accord. France has expressed its disappointment over the American move ~ “We regret this and this only makes the Franco-Chinese partnership on climate and biodiversity more necessary.”

In the net, climate has drawn a wedge between the US and the rest of the world which belongs to the Earth. More the pity, therefore, that the Trump administration has chosen to plough a lonely furrow on an issue that bears on the survival of humanity. The US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, announced the development, saying the agreement would be an “unfair economic burden imposed on American workers, businesses and taxpayers” and that the US has already reduced its heat-trapping emissions. There are not many countries that will readily buy so contrived an argument.

Dozens of countries are also pursuing goals to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Such imperatives must be contextualised with the warning advanced by the United Nations, i.e. the world has 12 years to limit the climate change catastrophe. Small wonder that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, has called Trump’s move a “disastrous decision that sells out our children’s future” ~ words that are an echo of 16-year-old Greta Thunberg’s caveat in the General Assembly.