Vatican Sees Way Around Trump on Climate Change, Official Says

(Bloomberg) -- The Pope’s leading adviser on climate issues has called for the European Union or China to fill the void left by the U.S. after Donald Trump’s decision to pull the country out of the Paris Climate Agreement.

“America has pulled out, but other nations can step in,” Cardinal Peter Turkson, who led the drafting of Pope Francis’s 2015 encyclical letter on climate change and the environment, said during an interview in Rome with Bloomberg TV. “We have other big nations, the EU is there, China is there. They can also step in.”

U.S. President Donald Trump said last June that he would withdraw his country from the Paris Climate Agreement, alleging it was damaging to American workers. The U.S. is the only one of 195 signatories to have withdrawn from the accord. The move was widely criticized by European countries and by Pope Francis, who warned against the negative impact it would have on the planet.

America First

The Vatican, which has diplomatic relations with over 180 countries and has permanent observer status at the United Nations, has strongly backed the Paris Agreement. The Pope has made defense of the environment one of the main issues of his papacy, backing scientists who attribute climate change mainly to human activities.

“America First. America can be first, only you have to ask the question of who must be number two?” Turkson said. “What does it take for one to be first and for another one to be number two?”

The U.S. process to exit the agreement started during the summer and will take years to become fully effective, with the country unable to formally exit the accord until November 2020, after the next presidential election. Meanwhile, the U.S. will continue to participate in international climate negotiations, Trump has said.

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