The 'Trump effect' is slowing international progress on climate change, think tank warns

  • A report published Monday claims that Donald Trump’s policies on climate change are having a domino effect on global progress.
  • The standards being set by the U.S. are damaging negotiations on the issue, the report says.
President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the Hertz Arena on October 31, 2018.
Joe Raedle | Getty Images
President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the Hertz Arena on October 31, 2018.

A so-called "Trump effect" is damaging global progress on climate change by harming international diplomacy, according to a report published Monday.

The report from the Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA) considered the impact President Donald Trump was having on the objectives of the Paris Agreement. Drafted in 2015, the agreement set out targets for international economies to work towards in order to reduce carbon emissions.

Joseph Curtin, senior fellow at the IIEA and the author of the report, said the Trump administration's policies were stalling progress towards those targets.

"The 'Trump effect' has created a powerful countervailing force acting against the momentum (the Paris Agreement) hoped to generate," he said in the report.

Curtin noted three key areas where the Trump effect had "applied a brake" to the worldwide movement. He said federal rollbacks were increasing the attractiveness of fossil fuel investments; U.S. withdrawal from the agreement had created moral and political cover for other nations to follow suit; and goodwill at international negotiations was being damaged.

The U.S. withdrew from the Paris agreement in July, prompting concern of a knock-on effect on the prioritization of tackling climate change.

"At ongoing international climate negotiations, the Trump effect is slowing progress," the report said. "The Trump administration has reneged on a pledge to the Green Climate Fund, leaving an outstanding liability of $2 billion, and has opposed stringent rules for reporting on efforts to scale up financial commitments from rich countries. These decisions have aggravated distrust between developed and developing countries, which is a necessary ingredient for progress."

While the report said it was a mistake to deny the importance of the Trump effect, Curtin wrote that it was also a mistake to suggest that the Paris Agreement was in crisis.

"Major economies, international negotiators and investors have, to some extent, adopted a wait and see posture in advance of the U.S. presidential election on November 3, 2020," the report said.

"However, withdrawal was no aberration. It reflected broader and deeper structural factors within the U.S. political economy, and is consistent with a pattern of Republican administrations extending back nearly four decades…

"In the short-run, the Paris Agreement can resist the Trump effect — it was designed to do so; but in the medium and longer-term, it will continue to be assailed by instability and uncertainty until these underlying structural factors can be addressed."

Despite the Trump effect's alleged impact on global attitudes towards climate change, many major economies are still prioritising the issue.

The EU announced Thursday that it was aiming to become the world's first climate neutral economy by 2050, and this week will see thousands of people arrive in Katowice, Poland, for the UN's COP24 summit on climate change.

A spokesperson for the White House was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC.

WATCH: The Ocean Cleanup is launching a giant plastic catcher to sea to clean up 1.8 trillion ponds of trash