President Donald Trump’s decision to abandon the Paris climate accord touched off a furious and immediate backlash, igniting condemnation from C-suites and capitals around the world. But one man was left a clear winner. China’s President Xi Jinping now has another opportunity to burnish his country’s image as a clean-energy innovator and global champion in fighting climate change. Not a bad spot for the world’s No. 1 polluter.
Xi has been deliberate in moving into the spaces Trump abandons. He runs a command economy but told the global elite at Davos this year that China is now a bastion of free trade. His Belt and Road Forum last month was meant to prove China — not the U.S. — is now in the vanguard of globalization. China’s also getting friendlier with Germany’s Angela Merkel, who can barely hide her growing distaste for Trump.
Watch video here:
Trump now is alone and isolated. His rhetoric explaining the decision may play well in some working-class precincts in Pittsburgh but in Paris, Emmanuel Macron is all but mocking him: “Make our planet great again,” he tweeted.
Now China may be only too happy to grab that slogan for itself.
CEO outrage | Normally, global executives applaud attempts to roll back regulation. And Trump’s announcement was hardly a shock. But the reaction from most CEOs was striking in its outrage. Goldman Sachs’s Lloyd Blankfein took to Twitter for the first time to slam it, while Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan said he will continue to press for emissions controls. Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, meanwhile, said the decision made him want to cry.
What does it mean for investors? | The biggest winners from Trump’s decision are oil, coal and natural gas producers. And even they aren’t popping Champagne corks. As Joe Ryan and Naureen Malik write today, that’s because individual government policies around the world, changing economics and cheaper solar power are already spurring a shift toward cleaner energy. So while Trump quitting Paris may be a boon for fossil fuels, it’s not necessarily moving markets.
Trump asks Supreme Court to revive travel ban | The administration has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to immediately reinstate its stalled travel ban, aiming to reverse a string of courtroom losses and setting up the biggest legal showdown of the young presidency. The case – Trump’s first initiative to go before the high court – brings the nine justices into a dispute over claims that the president is targeting Muslims.
May goes easy on Trump | While Germany, France and Italy protested in unison at Trump’s climate decision, Britain’s Theresa May waited more than three hours to respond and when she did, she merely expressed her “disappointment.” Her reticence was another sign of the distance opening up between the U.K. and Europe ahead of the Brexit talks and showed how careful she’s trying to be with Trump as she eyes an eventual free-trade deal.
Is Putin trolling America? | The Russian president yesterday gave his strongest hint yet that Russian hackers could have been involved in interfering with foreign elections. While repeating past denials that he had anything to do with the cyber attacks on Hillary Clinton, Putin told reporters that he couldn’t rule out involvement by free-spirited and patriotic “artists” who want to strike back against foreign criticism of their country.
Manila casino horror | At least 36 people died at a casino and hotel in the Philippine capital after a gunman opened fire and torched the complex. The dead appeared to have suffocated in thick smoke, police said, after the assailant killed himself. The incident sparked a security lock down amid fears that Islamist militants from the country’s south were responsible, but authorities have now ruled out terrorism and say the perpetrator may have been mentally disturbed.
Mexico’s populists are on the move | The ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party has dominated the country’s political landscape for nearly nine decades, and in that time has never lost control of Mexico State. But as Nacha Cattan writes, surging crime, stagnant wages, corruption and Trump mean the governorship is now up for grabs. Should arch-populist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador emerge victorious from Sunday’s vote, it could set him up to win next year’s presidential election.
Lewandowski and Kushner hug it out | Ousted Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski’s relationship with Trump’s son-in-law and top adviser, Jared Kushner, seems to be on the mend. The pair’s Rose Garden stroll this week ended in a hug, a sign that Kushner may no longer be a barrier to Lewandowski, now a private consultant, working more closely with the White House.
And finally… At an economic summit in Russia, newly minted NBC host Megyn Kelly bantered with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as she prepared to host a panel with the two leaders later today. “Are you on Twitter?” she asked Modi in St Petersburg. “Yes!” he boomed. India’s leader actually has has more than 30 million Twitter followers. (For anyone keeping score, Kelly has 2.3 million.) Here’s how some of the world’s most-followed leaders rank.