President Trump finally pulled the trigger on the Paris Climate Agreement and pulled out.
An agreement that was signed by 194 countries to curb climate change have largely condemned this decision and have assured the world they would stick to the agreement that was formulated in 2015.
President Trump’s decision was merely a political one, one where is voter base are celebrating particularly coal states like West Virginia who blamed Obama for the loss of jobs.
“This agreement is less about the climate and more about other countries gaining a financial advantage over the United States,” he said.
That celebration is a short sighted one as the coal industry has been on the decline well before Obama was president thanks to fracking and China.
According to a report by the Columbia Center on Global Energy Policy that between 2011 and 2016, US coal production dropped by 27 percent. They further added that the main culprits were as follows:
Natural Gas: 49%
Lower than expected demand: 26%
Renewable Energy: 18%
Obama Regulations: 3 to 5%
The agreement is nonbinding and flexible which means making it easier to pull out of Paris Accords.
Trump’s move is cruel in the message it sends about how America values the environment, how little it now cares about the risks climate change poses to the planet. It’s likely to prove incredibly damaging to America’s strategic position in the world and its standing in international negotiations on a range of issues.
Although US allies have reassured the world they would stick to the agreement getting the America back into the agreement is of utmost importance. Here’s why:
The idea of the agreement was to limit the global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius by 2100. This level is considered a crucial tipping point, above which there will be serious consequences for global food production and more dangerous climate events.
To achieve this, global greenhouse gas emissions will need to be cut by an estimated 40-70% by 2050, and by 2100 the planet must be carbon neutral.
The US is the world’s second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases.
The biggest emitter, China, will see this as victory on their side as they become the leaders in trying to reduce carbon emissions. Like Europe, China has already emerged as a leader on green energy and technology and is expected to reach its Paris targets early.
Lately, Premier Li Keqiang, China second in command, has been pitching China as “liberal, responsible and globalist power,” though it actually remains illiberal and authoritarian. Now they have a chance to reshape its image by leading the fight against climate change.
Developing countries around the world should be worried by Trump’s move. Developed countries which have generated the most greenhouse gasses causing climate change have reaffirmed that they would give $100 billion by 2020 to the Green Climate Fund. The money would be crucial in assisting developing countries with their climate policy and climate impacts.
The threat is very real and Bangladesh is an example of what climate disasters can do. They have a major refugee crisis in the coming years due to sea level rise that is expected to displace millions of people living in coastal flood zones. Furthermore, according to the World Bank there could be up to 100 million people being displaced due to climate effects in the next 15 years.
US pulling out sets a dangerous precedent. Other countries could lose their motivation to reduce emissions. Countries could pull out citing that one of the biggest polluters has done so why should other countries in remain in the agreement.
Is the agreement perfect? It’s an agreement that got 195 countries to the table and agree principally to a way forward to save our planet.
As former President Obama rightly said, “it’s the best chance we have to save the planet that we’ve got.”