Press Release

The US withdraws from the Paris Agreement: “call for European Unity”

The Federal Government takes note of President Trump’s decision to turn his back on the Paris Agreement and greatly regrets this decision. This is an irresponsible decision that goes against earlier promises.

This global commitment to the benefit of the climate, which was approved on 12 December 2015, provides that global warming should be limited to “less than 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels” and that, if possible, “efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C” must be pursued (Art. 2).

Belgium fully supports the Paris Agreement, as does the EU and Belgium will continue to do so. We have no choice, as failure in the fight against climate change is not an option. Not for the planet, nor for future generations.

The Belgian Federal Government expects the European Union to continue its unwavering leadership in the implementation of the Paris Agreement and that it remains committed, more than ever, to climate action and multilateral co-operation. The Prime Minister will raise this point at the next European Council meeting, scheduled in late June. Europe and Belgium must reaffirm their objectives in the fight against global climate change, now more than ever. This decision shows that Europe must lead the way in this respect, which is fundamental for the future.

Last week, as part of the special NATO meeting, before the various heads of state and government, Belgium argued very strongly in favour of maintaining the targets of the Paris Agreements.Today, on Friday 2 June, during a Belgian-Chinese summit, the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs will raise awareness among their Chinese colleagues to make sure that China reasserts its commitments in the fight against climate change.

The Government is happy to note that there are no signs currently indicating that other countries want to follow in the footsteps of the US by limiting their climate and environmental commitments.

Charles Michel, Prime Minister: “The US decision may not slow down our actions to combat climate change. We need to step up our efforts, to ensure that the major powers reassert their commitments. In addition to the ecological challenges facing us, there is also the economic aspect and global, geopolitical balances. Climate change can only lead to conflicts and the related migratory flows. We will use all possible international leverage to make progress. ‘Make the future great again’ must be our ambition.”

Didier Reynders, vice-Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs: “We owe it to our children to act now. We can only do so if all countries take up their responsibility. In the long run, climate change can lead to greater insecurity and may render large areas of land uninhabitable. At the UN Ocean Conference in New York next week, I will demand greater attention for the strong link between climate and security. A good climate policy prevents conflicts. Better energy efficiency also provides a great deal of economic opportunities. It increases our competitiveness, presents health benefits and reduces our dependence on energy imports.

Alexander De Croo, vice-Prime Minister and Minister of Development Co-operation: “The refugee crisis in Europe is just a taste of what’s to come if climate change causes even more large-scale floods, droughts and famine, leading to mass-migration. It will also create more competition for food, water and energy in areas where these resources are scarce and there is no good governance. The European Union will continue to be a leader in this respect and will probably overshoot its target of a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. Together, the EU member states contribute 47% of the funds committed to the UN’s Green Climate Fund. Our country is making a great effort in this respect as well.

Marie-Christine Marghem, Minister of the Environment and Sustainable Development: “I regret that our climate allies are pursuing an isolationist policy that flies in the face of history. This decision will not undermine the government’s determination to continue the dialogue with the regions, also as part of the Inter-federal Pact, to meet our EU targets.