US President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed his so-called "Energy Independence" executive order which scrapped many of the environmental initiatives of the Obama administration, including the Clean Power Plan. Trump's order calls for loosening the regulatory reins on fossil fuel industries, which is widely regarded as the administration's intent to retreat from action on climate change.
Leaders from China and the US reached an agreement on climate change at the end of 2014, which paved the way for the signing of the Paris Agreement the next year. China and the US are the world's two largest emitters of carbon dioxide. China is poised to reduce the emissions per unit of GDP by limiting the use of fossil fuels. However, what the US is doing undermines the other countries' dedication to implement the Paris Agreement.
The US produces a large amount of greenhouse gas emissions, but it also has the technological advantage to cut it. It is the sole superpower in the world, thus its attitude toward climate change will have a profound impact on how the world reacts to it and can change people's perception of this battle against manmade climate change.
China is still in a phase of fast development and the task of industrialization has not been completed yet. Nonetheless, Beijing feels obliged to push forward the Paris Agreement and balance its economic development with cutting carbon emissions.
Washington is supposed to take the lead in the global fight against climate change, but the Trump administration could be the first to ditch the agreement, which is disappointing.
In front of nature's destructive power, mankind is a community of common destiny. Runaway global warming will have disastrous results, and no one will be left untouched, including the US.
The strength of the US allows it to act wilfully, regardless of international opinion. If Beijing or Moscow threaten to quit the Paris Agreement, it will face enormous pressure from the international community.
Many Western media have criticized Trump's decision, but their calls sound somewhat feeble.
Some Western media now pin their hopes on China to fill the vacuum left by Washington in the fight against climate change. But no matter how hard Beijing tries, it won't be able to take on all the responsibilities that Washington refuses to take.
China will remain the world's biggest developing country for a long time. How can it be expected to sacrifice its own development space for those developed Western powerhouses?
Western opinion should continue to pressure the Trump administration on climate change. Washington's political selfishness must be discouraged.
American opinion has enabled the country's political and legal authorities to freeze the president's Muslim ban. If it keeps up the same vigor, the Trump administration may not be able to pull the US out of the Paris Agreement.