While Brazil has elected a climate sceptical president, Germany’s ‘climate chancellor’ Angela Merkel has announced that she is gradually stepping down from her political roles. Green news outlets are voicing concern that these and other developments in the Western world are putting the Paris agreement and the entire climate agenda at risk of falling apart.
The alliance of rich, emerging and poor economies that sealed the Paris climate deal is falling apart.
In 2015, the world’s top two emitters, the US and China, joined with Brazil, some small island countries and the European Union, led by Germany, France and the UK, to land the agreement.
But climate change politics have shifted significantly since then, with two more big tilts this week. Brazil elected a staunch and radical anti-environmentalist president, while Germany’s Angela Merkel confirmed her exit plans, further weakening an already fading image as the “climate chancellor” and Europe’s go-to leader in the field.
It is the latest bout of a malaise that has infected climate efforts since Donald Trump was elected in the US in 2016.
Now, in many important countries, climate scepticism and economic nationalism are usurping the international green enthusiasm of 2015. As a result, political support for slashing greenhouse gas emissions, sending aid to the poorest and most vulnerable countries and discussing it all in multilateral summits is waning. Others that remain committed to climate action are consumed by domestic concerns – like Brexit in the UK, and political instability in Germany.