Paris Agreement architect slates Donald Trump's climate change stance

Laurent Fabius told the World Government Summit that "selfish" governments should not put election success ahead of the planet's prosperity

Dubai, United Arab Emirates - February 11, 2019: Laurent Fabius, President of the constitutional council, former prime minister of France speaks about Climate action in a multilateral-skeptic world during day 2 at the World Government Summit. Monday the 11th of February 2019 at Madinat, Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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A former French politician who was central to the creation of the Paris Agreement has said the next US presidential election will be a crucial moment in the fight against climate change - after hitting out at "selfish" governments putting their own interests ahead of the planet's future.

Laurent Fabius, who served as prime minister of France from 1984 to 1986, told the World Government Summit in Dubai that international co-operation is vital to tackling the issue and lamented Donald Trump's move in 2017 to withdraw from the environmental pact thrashed out in France's capital two years earlier.

Mr Fabius was instrumental in establishing the 2015 protocol, which requires nations to play their part in reducing greenhouse gases.

“So far there has only been one country which has decided to quit the Paris Agreement,” said Mr Fabius, in reference to US President Donald Trump's decision to pull America out of the deal.

It is selfish of governments to put the next election ahead of the next generation

“We will have a clearer picture about that decision on the first day after the next American election.”

The US will go to the polls for the next presidential election in 2020, with Mr Trump aiming to secure a second and final four-year term in the White House.

Mr Fabius has previously described Mr Trump’s decision to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement as “dangerous nonsense”.

Speaking at the WGS, he hit out at the attitude of governments that are failing to make climate change a priority.

“It is selfish of governments to put the next election ahead of the next generation,” he said.

Hollywood superstar Harrison Ford was among the audience as Mr Fabius and UN General Assembly President Marie Fernanda Espinosa discussed how to tackle climate change in a sceptical world.

Ms Espinosa, said that countries that were promoting nationalist and isolationist policies were creating serious problems in the battle against climate change.

“International co-operation is key in meeting targets on climate change. It is possible to address global warming as long as we work quickly and collectively,” she said.

“Yet today we are witnessing a growing appetite for isolationism and nationalism which is having an aggravating and devastating effect on climate change.”

She said that the UN needed to work from within to ensure there was a global consensus on how to address concerns over global warming.

“What we need is more co-operation in all aspects especially with financing how we treat climate change,” she said.

“We need governments to lead by example. We must adapt to remain relevant and be accountable to future generations.”

She said in order for that to happen, the world’s youth needed to be included in the discussion.

“A stable climate system is an intergenerational asset requiring multilateral attention,” she said.

“Opportunities are only sustainable when they are shared.”