UNITED NATIONS — President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement is part of “the erosion of the moral and political leadership of the United States,” France’s top diplomat at the United Nations said Tuesday.
“America is perceived on this on the wrong side of history,” Ambassador François Delattre told reporters. “For some, its status has shifted. Once the most reliable guarantor of the world order, the U.S. is now being considered, again by some, and at the risk of exaggerating, a threat to our planet’s equilibrium.
“Worse, the indispensable nation is perceived as risking losing that attribute if the Paris agreement is implemented without it.”
The veteran French diplomat said he is encouraged that other countries and American businesses are reaffirming their commitments to reducing carbon emissions under the voluntary agreement, and said the pact will remain “our common roadmap.”
Speaking slowly and with evident regret, Delattre said Trump’s decision is about more than the agreement at hand and presages a retreat from American preeminence in the post-World War II global order.
“On the geopolitical level, indeed, my personal take is that the American decision can be interpreted as a factor in the erosion of the moral and political leadership of the United States,” Delattre said.
“This decision could retrospectively be perceived as the birth certificate of the multipolar world,” he said. “We more than ever need America to organize this multipolar world. We, more than ever, need an America that stays committed to world affairs, because a lasting American withdrawal from world affairs could give rise to the return of all spheres of influence, whose dire consequences we are already familiar with.”
French President Emmanuel Macron has also condemned Trump’s decision and said France would welcome disheartened American climate scientists.
Trump announced last week that the United States would quit the landmark 2015 agreement, alleging that it is a bad deal for taxpayers and American business. Macron, among many other leaders, had directly lobbied Trump to remain a part of the agreement.
The United States is a linchpin of the pact, and the voluntary participation of the largest industrialized country was intended as a prod and an example to others.
Trump’s choice followed his reluctance, at a NATO summit in Brussels last month, to expressly commit the United States to European defense. The mutual defense pact — that an attack on one is an attack on all — is the founding principle of the NATO alliance.