President Macron’s speech on climate change is a reminder of why the Paris Agreement is important

In a speech to the United States congress, French President Emmanuel Macron stood his ground on climate change by rebuking President Trump’s anti-environmental agenda.

“Some people think that securing current industries and their jobs is more urgent than transforming our economies to meet the global challenge of climate change. I hear these concerns. But we must find a smooth transition to a low-carbon economy. Because what is the meaning of our life, really, if we work and live destroying the planet, one sacrifice things for the future of our children. What is the meaning of our life if our decision, our conscious decision, is to reduce the opportunities for our children and grandchildren.

By polluting the oceans, not mitigating CO2 emissions, and destroying our biodiversity — we are killing our planet. Let us face it. There is no planet B”. – President Macron.

It was a response to President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Agreement making America the only country in the world to do so. The Paris Agreement, where originally 194 countries had signed up to in 2015, was formulated in order to limit the rise of global temperature by 2 degrees Celsius by 2100.

In order to achieve this global greenhouse gas emission will need to be cut by an estimated 40-70% by 2050.

President Trump’s decision was merely a political one, one where his 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.

Donald Trump campaigns before the 2016 US presidential election. Photo by Wikimedia Commons

 

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 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.