French President Emmanuel Macron has been widely praised for speaking out against Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate change as Theresa May was condemned for expressing her “disappointment” only.
The Prime Minister’s name was noticeably absent from a joint statement signed by the leaders of France, Germany and Italy on Thursday.
Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Premier Paolo Gentiloni said they regard the accord as “a cornerstone in the cooperation between our countries, for effectively and timely tackling climate change”.
Macron, Merkel and Gentiloni say they remain committed to the deal and will “step up efforts” to support the poorest and most threatened nations.
They added that the course charted by the accord is “irreversible and we firmly believe that the Paris Agreement cannot be renegotiated”.
Speaking on Thursday, Macron invited scientists and “responsible citizens” to come to France to work together to find a solution.
“Today the President of the United States Donald Trump announced his decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement. I do respect this decision but I do think it is a mistake. Both for the US and for our planet.
“Tonight I wish to tell the United States, France believes in you, the world believes in you. I know that you are a great nation.
“I know your history, our common history. To all scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, responsible citizens who were disappointed by the decision of the United States, I want to say that they will find in France a second homeland.
“I call on them, come and work here with us. To work together on concrete solutions for our climate, our environment. I can assure you, France will not give up the fight. I reaffirm clearly that the Paris Agreement remains irreversible and will be implemented. Not just by France but by all the other nations.
“Over the coming hours I will have the opportunity to speak with our main partners to define a common strategy and to launch new initiatives. I already know that I can count on them.
“I call on your to remain confident. We will succeed because we are fully committed because wherever live, wherever we are, we all share the same responsibility. Make our planet great again.”
While Trump said the US would be willing to rejoin the accord if it could obtain more favorable terms, the French, Italian and German leaders said the agreement would not be renegotiated, “since it is a vital instrument for our planet, societies and economics.”
Meanwhile, May has been accused of “hiding behind (a) bland Downing Street briefing” as the Prime Minister did no more than “express her disappointment” at the US’s decision.
David Gauke, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, tried to defend the Prime Minister’s position during an interview on BBC Newsnight.
He told Evan Davis: “We do think it is regrettable but different countries will take different approaches in terms of how we wish to express our opinion.”
Davis said it looked as though the UK was being “pulled towards the US”, rather than Europe and China.
Gauke dismissed this, saying it “wasn’t a fair categorisation” as the UK played a “leading role” in the Paris Agreement.
He brushed off Davis’ comment about the lack of visibility from the Prime Minister, adding: “The government’s position is clear, we are disappointed.”
Many pointed to Macron’s speech as an example of what “real leadership” looks like:
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted a picture of May and Trump holding hands:
SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said it was an “appalling abdication of leadership” by May:
Former Labour leader Ed Miliband accused the Prime Minister of hiding “behind bland Downing Street briefing”:
While the British Prime Minister avoided criticising Trump, the CEO of Goldmann Sachs did not hold back:
And May’s predecessor David Cameron criticised Trump’s “backwards step”:
It is not the first time May has been criticised for her lacklustre response to Trump’s controversial actions.
In response to Trump’s ban on people travelling from the US from seven predominantly Muslim countries earlier this year, German Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned his executive order, while May doggedly tried to avoid commenting on it in detail.
While Merkel said Trump’s “way of thinking is against my interpretation of the basic tenets of international refugee support and cooperation,” May said simply: “We do not agree with this kind of approach.”
Speaking in Berlin on Friday, Merkel admitted that she was being “very restrained” by merely describing Trump’s latest position as “regrettable”.
The German press were less restrained, however:
And Greenpeace trolled Trump by projecting his outline onto the US Embassy in the German capital with #TotalLoser.
In defiance of Trump’s actions, Michael Bloomberg, a billionaire philanthropist and businessman, said that he is rallying support from business leaders and politicians across both parties to meet the climate pact’s targets even.
Americans are not walking away from the Paris Climate Agreement,” Bloomberg said.
“Just the opposite — we are forging ahead. Mayors, governors, and business leaders from both political parties are signing on to to a statement of support that we will submit to the UN — and together, we will reach the emission reduction goals the United States made in Paris in 2015.”