The United States will be a "rogue country" if President-elect Donald Trump successfully pulls out of the Paris climate accord, said United Nations envoy and international human rights advocate Mary Robinson to Reuters Sunday.
Robinson, former president of Ireland, said: "It would be a tragedy for the United States and the people of the United States if the U.S. becomes a kind of rogue country, the only country in the world that is somehow not going to go ahead with the Paris Agreement."
As a U.N. envoy for climate change, Robinson met with women in drought-stricken parts of Honduras, she said.
"I saw the pain on the faces of those women. And one of the women said to me, and I'll never forget, 'We have no water. How do you live without water?'" Robinson told Reuters. "I'm hearing that all over the world."
Indeed, Robinson's warning came on the same day that a World Bank report showed increasing natural disasters are pushing 26 million people into poverty each year. The report was made public at COP22, currently underway in Morocco.
"Severe climate shocks threaten to roll back decades of progress against poverty," said World Bank president Jim Kim at the climate conference, according to the Guardian. "Storms, floods, and droughts have dire human and economic consequences, with poor people often paying the heaviest price."
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"The moral obligation of the United States as a big emitter, and a historically big emitter that built its whole economy on fossil fuels that are now damaging the world—it's unconscionable the United States would walk away from it," Robinson added to Reuters.
The president-elect is exploring fairly extreme options for pulling out of the deal, reports ThinkProgress, including "by canceling the very treaty that made the Paris agreement possible in the first place." This would make it impossible for the U.S. to partake in any international climate discussions or treaties.
Trump has also vowed to cut off billions of dollars in U.S. funding for international climate action.
The international community is indeed alarmed by Trump's climate threats. French presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy called for aggressive counter-moves if the U.S. retracts its climate commitments, arguing for a carbon tax on American goods. Author and activist Naomi Klein has also put forth a case for international sanctions against the U.S.
The Paris climate accord went into force on November 4, days before the U.S. presidential election. Environmentalists warned that even if all countries adhered to the agreement, the world may still face 3.5ºC of warming by 2100—and more recent research shows that emissions-as-normal could heat up the globe upwards of 7ºC by that point, unleashing climate chaos as yet unseen in human history.
Meanwhile, in Morocco other signatories to the deal are scrambling to push the deal farther, and to move faster, in order to send a counter-message to Trump's climate denialism and prove that the accord will prevail.