Paris Climate accord--fallout from US withdrawal

Dhaka,  Sun,  23 July 2017
Published : 11 Jun 2017, 19:22:20
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Paris Climate accord--fallout from US withdrawal

Mushfiqur Rahman
In the backdrop of the struggles of the nations of the world to reduce carbon and other Green House Gas (GHG) emissions to prevent global atmospheric temperatures from rising more than 2 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels, Trump administration declared  on June 01,  2017 that the  United States was officially withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement. 

The Paris Climate deal was agreed in December 2015 by 195 countries of the world including the USA. The Paris Climate deal was designed to work through voluntary actions and peer pressures to cut emissions. Former US president Obama played a proactive role to make the Paris Climate deal a reality. But United States' Senate did not ratify the Paris Climate Agreement. United States of America is the second largest contributor of carbon dioxide in the world atmosphere, releasing nearly 15 per cent of global emissions (US residents emit approximately 16.5 metric tons of carbon dioxide per capita every year).Now, Trump administration needs four years to complete the official exit process from the Paris accord. However, a future United States government may rejoin the Paris Agreement if it decides to do so. President Donald Trump declared that his administration would rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement if 'the accord were drastically renegotiated.' Former President Obama reacted to the Tramp's decision to withdraw from Paris Climate accord as 'denying the future.'

As per the Climate Agreement 2015, Obama Administration had promised to cut GHS emissions 26-28 per cent below 2005 levels within 2025. Other countries put forward individual obligations for curbing GHG emissions and agreed to meet at regular intervals to review and strengthen those pledges for avoiding looming catastrophic global warming. 

President Donald Trump has been a consistent critic of the Paris Climate deal. He considered that the Paris Climate accord as an 'unjust' Agreement and harmed the economic development of the United States, especially for the oil gas and coal industries. He claimed that the Paris Climate Accord could cause loss of $3 trillion of US gross domestic product (GDP) and cause 65,000 employment opportunity losses for the United States. Donald Trump's supporters in the USA argue that the Paris Climate Accord restricts USA's ability to do what it wants with its energy resources. 

The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) is delighted that President Donald Trump has pulled out of the Paris agreement. President Trump further claimed that the Paris Climate deal benefited most China and India.  It was President Trump's pre-election pledge to pull out from the Paris Climate Agreement. President Trump further hinted that his administration would pull out from the international treaties and agreements which 'harm America's interest'; alternatively he would try to renegotiate them. It is interesting to observe that the US Conference of Mayors, strongly opposed president Trump's decision, and its members' pledge to continue efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the city and state level. The mayors of 61 cities around the US have joined together to reaffirm their commitment to the Paris agreement.

As the published reports suggest, Trump Administration has been reviewing major US regulations on power plants and car rules that are aimed at reducing carbon emissions. 

The European leaders criticised President Trump's decision to pull out of Paris accord. In a joint statement top leaders of France, Italy and Germany stated that there was no room for renegotiating the Paris Climate Agreement 2015. Canadian Prime Minister expressed 'deep disappointment' and the British Prime Minister expressed her 'disappointments' with Trump's decision. Bangladesh government expressed its frustration on Trump Administrations decision to leave the Paris Climate Agreement. Both Beijing (China emitted 9.6 billion tonnes of CO2 last year) and New Delhi ((India is the fourth largest carbon emitter in the world) have reaffirmed their commitment to meeting their targets as agreed in the Paris Climate deal 2015.

As the second largest carbon polluter, USA pulls out of the carbon emission pledges, other countries and industries of the world may feel less enthusiastic in reducing carbon emissions and for spending more resources for scientific research and development for less polluting industrial production processes. President Trump's decision to pull out of Paris climate accord also means that the United States will not provide the money it previously promised for the Green Climate Fund. More than 40 countries, including the United States, have pledged to pay a total of about $10 billion into the fund to help developing countries reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg has promised to provide up to $15 million in funding to compensate the US share of fund the United Nations will lose because of President Trump's decision to pull out of the Paris climate deal.

Billionaire Bloomberg's charitable organisation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, promised to shoulder the United States' share in the operating costs of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, in charge of helping developing countries fulfil environmental requirements under the 2015 pact.

The Guardian, UK reports on June 10, 2017 that the 'US pullout still undoubtedly brings risks for the rest of the world. Even a decline in US carbon emissions will slow progress and might bump up global warming by a tenth of a degree or two. That could be enough to push the most vulnerable nations (Bangladesh is one of them) under the waves of a rising ocean'.

The extraordinary unity of the world's nations, except the USA, in tackling global warming and the pressure from booming green economy driven by rapidly reducing renewable energy costs are strong reasons to think that the US pullout from Paris Climate Agreement would not push the world into catastrophe.

The writer is a mining engineer and writes on energy and environment issues. mushfiq41@yahoo.com
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