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Mixed Reaction across the Globe to 45th U.S. president Donald Trump’s Inauguration

On Friday as Donald Trump became the 45th U.S. president, and a far larger audience around the country and throughout the world witnessed the event through live broadcasts

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Donald Trump. Wikimedia

Hundreds of thousands of people at the National Mall in Washington looked on Friday as Donald Trump became the 45th U.S. president, and a far larger audience around the country and throughout the world witnessed the event through live broadcasts. VOA reporters talked to people around the globe who said they are looking at the transition of American power with a mix of admiration and apprehension.

Russia

In Moscow, a “Russian Army”-brand clothing store flashed Trump’s image on an electronic billboard and offered discounts to American citizens. On the streets, reactions were mixed.

“We hope that relations between our Russia and America will improve, that they’ll find a common language in relation to Syria, that they will find a common language to get rid of what is going on there,” said Lidiya Voronova, a retiree.

A young editor at a newspaper who gave his name only as Sergey said Trump “is quite a controversial president in the history of the United States, but I hope he will gain the trust of Americans.”

Trump’s inaugural address signaled a new “America first” policy for the country:

“For many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry; subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military; we’ve defended other nation’s borders while refusing to defend our own,” he declared at the U.S. Capitol.

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Mexico

That attitude has unnerved some in Mexico, where the respected weekly magazine Proceso warns, “The war is coming.”

José Luis López Aguirre, a media expert at the Pan American University in Mexico City, says Trump’s use of Twitter and other social media to proclaim his views has widened divisions in America.

“He [Trump] is creating a community that is very adept at his aggressive, confrontational speech that tries to polarize American society,” Aguirre said, adding, “Because not everything he says is true.”

His university colleague, communication specialist María López Gutiérrez, has a different point of view: “I think that this possible threat of Trump has been greatly exaggerated. … We should be waiting, we are dedicated to communication, to give reality and not just the show.”

West Africa

In West Africa, VOA spoke with residents of both Nigeria and Niger, who for the most part seemed encouraged by the new administration.

Muhammad Uba Musa of Maiduguri, Nigeria, said, “Americans have so much to write about Barack Obama’s administration. We are praying for him … [and] also praying for President Donald Trump to succeed in his government.”

Alhaji Bello Musa of Birnin Konni in Niger also was hopeful: “Despite President Trump’s heated campaign in the past year … our prayers to him are that he should try to unify the world. … We also hope he’ll help Third World nations reach their potential.”

Umma Issaka of the same region in Niger was more cautious: “Donald Trump’s statement [that he may] ban Muslims from entering the country, is our major problem. … Most importantly, one cannot distinguish between Muslims and Christians; the relationship between the two has a long history, which has been since the era of the prophets. He should be very careful with his words as a leader of a great nation.”

Afghanistan

In Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, Abdul Hadi Arez, a retired attorney, says he believes that Trump will face some grave challenges in foreign policy. “Over the past 30 years, Afghanistan has been torn apart in a regional proxy war,” he said, and this trend has become even more pronounced recently, “Because we see Russia, China and Iran interfering in Afghanistan against the U.S.”

Emran Khan, a student in Kabul, is “concerned that with the arrival of the new president, Afghanistan will lose the aid we receive.” He hopes the United States will not shift away from efforts to eliminate the Taliban, because “U.S. commitment is necessary for our security.”

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South Korea

“We have been hearing about [Trump’s] America First’ policies since his campaign, and his extreme attitude makes us worry about what the future holds,” said Choi Seowoo, 22, who works at a finance company in Seoul.

“However, I am hopeful — or at least I want to believe — that rather than simply abandoning the traditional U.S.-South Korea alliance, President Trump will open a new chapter in the alliance by making it into a more modern relationship that fits the ever-volatile global society and politics.”

North Korea

A 50-year-old North Korean defector who lives in Chicago, and asked to remain anonymous for security reasons, told VOA he hopes “Trump revitalizes the nation’s economy, so that people here can have a better life.”

And along with strengthening U.S. national security to protect Americans, the defector added, “he should increase pressure on Pyongyang by slapping tougher sanctions against North Korea.”

Another defector, 50-year-old Kim Chang Ho of Los Angeles, said, “There are scores of North Korean defectors who have arrived here through third countries, and they do not have legal status. … I wish the U.S. would give them a chance to settle here permanently.”

Other nations

The inauguration attracted people of many different nationalities to Washington, both visitors and those who now live here permanently.

Nem Chhoeung is a Cambodian who lives in Clayton, Georgia. He told VOA he is very happy “because in our country we rarely see this kind of event.” He felt honored and privileged to be in the U.S. capital to watch the transition from one U.S. president to another.

Sen Son, a Buddhist monk who now lives in Stone Mountain, Georgia, shared the same joyous feeling of witnessing history.

“For me, as a Buddhist monk living in this country, I am happy to be participating in this event. This does not mean that I support [Trump], but I am enjoying this inauguration.”

Yehuda Glick, a visiting Jewish rabbi who also is a member of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, told VOA he strongly hopes and prays — “that’s what I’m here for, to strengthen the relationship between Israel and the United States.”

Next Story

President Donald Trump Can Begin Steps to Pull United States Out of Landmark Paris Climate Agreement

It was negotiated in 2015 with lots of prodding by the United States and China and went into effect Nov. 4, 2016

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President, Donald Trump, United States
In the Paris agreement, nearly 200 countries set their own national targets for reducing or controlling pollution of heat-trapping gases Wikimedia Commons

For more than two years President Donald Trump has talked about pulling the United States out of the landmark Paris climate agreement. Starting Monday he finally can do something about it.

Even then, though, the withdrawal process takes a year and wouldn’t become official until at least the day after the 2020 presidential election.

In the Paris agreement, nearly 200 countries set their own national targets for reducing or controlling pollution of heat-trapping gases. It was negotiated in 2015 with lots of prodding by the United States and China and went into effect Nov. 4, 2016.

The terms of the deal say no country can withdraw in the first three years. So Monday is the first time the U.S. could actually start the withdrawal process, which begins with a letter to the United Nations. And it doesn’t become official for a year after that, which leads to the day after the election.

President, Donald Trump, United States
Youths demonstrate for climate change during the “Fridays for Future” school strike, in front of the Ecology Ministry in Paris, France, Feb. 15, 2019. VOA

If someone other than Trump wins in 2020, the next president could get back in the deal in just 30 days and plan to cut carbon pollution, said Andrew Light, a former Obama State Department climate negotiator now at the nonprofit World Resources Institute.

Light and other experts say the withdrawal by the United States, the second biggest climate polluter and world’s largest economy, will hurt efforts to fight global warming.

“Global objectives can’t be met unless everybody does their part and the U.S. has to play the game,” said Appalachian State University environmental sciences professor Gregg Marland, who is part of a global effort to track carbon dioxide emissions. “We’re the second biggest player. What happens to the game if we take our ball and go home?”

Someone else, probably the biggest polluter China, will take over leadership in the global fight, said MIT economist Jake Jacoby, who co-founded the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change.

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The penalty for the U.S. “is not in economic loss. The penalty is in shame, in discrediting U.S. leadership,” Jacoby said.

Asked what the U.S. plans next, State Department spokesman James Dewey on Friday emailed only this: “The U.S. position with respect to the Paris Agreement has not changed. The United States intends to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.”

The agreement set goals of preventing another 0.5 degrees Celsius to 1 degree Celsius of warming from current levels. Even the pledges made in 2015 weren’t enough to prevent those levels of warming.

The deal calls for nations to come up with more ambitious pollution cuts every five years, starting in November 2020 in at a meeting in Scotland. Because of the expected withdrawal, the U.S. role in 2020 negotiations will be reduced, Light said.

President, Donald Trump, United States
Even then, though, the withdrawal process takes a year and wouldn’t become official until at least the day after the 2020 presidential election. Pixabay

Climate change, caused by the burning of coal, oil and gas, has already warmed the world by 1 degree Celsius since the late 1800s, caused massive melting of ice globally, triggered weather extremes and changed ocean chemistry. And scientists say, depending on how much carbon dioxide is emitted, it will only get worse by the end of the century with temperatures jumping by several degrees and oceans rising by close one meter.

Trump has been promising to pull out of the Paris deal since 2017, often mischaracterizing the terms of the agreement, which are voluntary. In October, he called it a massive wealth transfer from America to other nations and said it was one-sided

That’s not the case, experts said.

For example, the U.S. goal – set by Barack Obama’s administration – had been to reduce carbon dioxide emission in 2025 by 26% to 28% compared to 2005 levels. This translates to about 15% compared to 1990 levels.

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The European Union’s goal was to cut carbon pollution in 2030 by 40% compared to 1990 levels, which is greater than America’s pledge, said Stanford University’s Rob Jackson, who chairs the Global Carbon Project, a group of scientists that track carbon emissions worldwide. The United Kingdom has already exceeded that goal, he said.

“The U.S. agreement is not a tax on the American people. There is no massive wealth transfer,” said Climate Advisers CEO Nigel Purvis, who was a lead State Department climate negotiator in the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations. “In fact, the agreement obligates no country to make any financial payments.”

Formally getting out of the Paris agreement is bad, but at this point after years of rhetoric is more symbolic than anything, said Georgia Tech climate scientist Kim Cobb. She said she is more worried about other Trump carbon pollution actions, such as fighting California’s tougher emissions and mileage standards and rollbacks of coal fired power plant regulations.

The U.S. was not on track to reach its Paris pledge, according to the federal Energy Information Administration’s latest projections.

The EIA projects that in 2025 emissions will be at 4959 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, 17% below 2005 levels, about 500 million tons short of the goal. Emissions in 2018 were nearly 2% higher than in 2016, the agency’s latest energy outlook says. That spike likely was from extreme weather and economic growth, Marland and Jacoby said. (VOA)