Macron urges climate change unity as US quits deal
Layah Heilpern

French President Emmanuel Macron began his official visit to China on Tuesday as the guest of honor at the China International Import Expo. On the trip, Mr Macron was joined by delegation of 30 French businesses, including blue chip companies and small enterprises.

The French President hopes the visit will strengthen ties between China and France and it is expected to conclude with the signing of several trade deals in Beijing on Wednesday, but the US President's decision to begin the process of pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement has overshadowed events. 

The 2015 accord intends to cap the rise of the average global temperature by 2 Celsius, and there are concerns that President Trump's decision to leave the pact could put this in jeopardy.

Marie-Cecile Naves, a US geopolitics expert at French think tank IRIS (French Institute for International and Strategic Affairs), said "It's a strong sign to the international community and to Donald Trump's supporters that the US is determined to reject all forms of cooperation on climate change. 

"For the moment, the US is the only country to leave the Paris agreement. But there are concerns that others may also follow, particularly those who align their strategy and discourse to that of Donald Trump's. Notably Brazil, and that is what worries many European countries as far as protecting the climate is concerned.”

President Macron speaking at the opening ceremony of the China International Import Expo in Shanghai (Credit: AP/Hector Retamal)

President Macron speaking at the opening ceremony of the China International Import Expo in Shanghai (Credit: AP/Hector Retamal)

The US withdrawal comes following a 2017 announcement by President Trump, expressing his intentions to leave. Mr Trump claims the Paris agreement is an obstacle in America becoming the super powerhouse he envisages. However a number of US companies have said they will continue to work towards reducing emissions.

Although President Trump formally announced the process of withdrawal on Monday, the US will have to wait one year until they are officially able to leave. But with this date falling on the day after the next presidential election, 4 November, it is possible for a new leader to reverse President Trump's decision.

On Wednesday, Macron and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, are expected to sign a pact referencing the 'irreversibility' of the Paris Climate Accord. Earlier this year both countries promised to enhance their current contributions to reducing emissions at the G20 summit.

Speaking from Shanghai on Tuesday, President Macron said "If we are to comply with the Paris accord, we will have to increase our commitments on emissions next year. We will need to confirm new commitments for 2030 and 2050. 

"And cooperation between China and the European Union is decisive in this respect."

While the issue of climate change may have shifted the focus of this trip slightly, French President Emanuel Macron is still hoping to cash-in on closer relations with Beijing as he wants to see the belt and road initiative work both ways, opening up the Chinese market to French companies.

He tweeted, "Europe and China are major partners in international trade and - at the same time - competitors. We need to create new equilibrium links for a more open and fair trade order."