Pacific leader likens Donald Trump to a 'classroom bully' after climate deal backdown


Two headshots side by side of Donald Trump and Anote Tong.
US President Donald Trump's decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement is a selfish move that ignores the plight of low-lying island nations, Pacific leaders say. However they hope the fight against climate change will continue without American leadership.

Anote Tong, the former president of Kiribati and one of the prominent Pacific voices during the Paris agreement negotiations, said while he was not surprised by Mr Trump's decision to withdraw, it was still deeply disappointing.

"There was a lot of hope and expectation that he would change his view," Mr Tong told Pacific Beat. 
"The withdrawal I think has huge repercussions for something that's taken quite a long time to put together."

He likened the withdrawal to the actions of a selfish bully. 
"It's pretty selfish, I think there's no other way to explain that," Mr Tong said. "In any classroom, there's always the bully, but hopefully there will always be somebody who will stand up against the bully."

"But in this case, the one with the greatest capacity to ensure justice is served is in fact becoming the bully," he said. 
Mr Tong said Mr Trump's justification that the agreement would undermine the US economy and sovereignty are particularly galling to small Pacific island nations, that are on the frontline of the impacts of climate change.

"On a global issue like climate change, there are no national borders. I think a lot of people are missing the point, including Mr Trump," Mr Tong said.


"Climate change is not about the United States, it's about this planet, it's about our values as human beings."
Climate change not 'negotiable' in the Pacific

There have been similar reactions from other Pacific leaders.

Fiji's Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama, said the loss of America's leadership is unfortunate but the fight to rein in climate change will go on. 
Mr Bainimarama will serve as president of the UN climate talks — known as COP23 — in Bonn, Germany in November and in a statement said he will work to form a grand coalition.

"I am also convinced that the United States Government will eventually re-join our struggle because the scientific evidence of man-made climate change is well understood," he said. 
"The issue is settled, the impacts are obvious and humankind ignores these facts at its peril."

In a statement, Marshall Islands President Hilda Heine said the decision was highly concerning for her country, which has long believed in the importance of US global leadership.

"Our children and their children deserve not only to survive but thrive," she said. 
"That is why the rest of the world remains firmly committed to the Paris Agreement, and our own commitment will never waiver."

Mr Trump also said his administration would stop contributing to the UN's Green Climate Fund which provides funding and resources to help vulnerable countries adapt to the impacts of climate change.

He said the US could potentially look to negotiate a new climate agreement, but Anote Tong said no Pacific island countries would be willing to go back to the negotiating table.

"I think that's what we've been doing for too long, negotiating, because we regarded this as a negotiable issue, and it's not." 
"I don't know what the US really is worried about. They already have the largest share of the world's wealth, and here we are just trying to survive."

ABC

Pacific leader likens Donald Trump to a 'classroom bully' after climate deal backdown Pacific leader likens Donald Trump to a 'classroom bully' after climate deal backdown Reviewed by Nene Sochi-Okereke on Friday, 2 June 2017 Rating: 5

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