April 22, 2018

Baker urges USA to stay committed to Paris climate pact

19 May 2017, 06:51 | Winifred Adams

A flag bearing the company logo of Royal Dutch Shell flies outside the energy giant's head office in The Hague Netherlands in 2014. Peter Dejong AP

A flag bearing the company logo of Royal Dutch Shell flies outside the energy giant's head office in The Hague Netherlands in 2014

But with Trump laying waste to President Obama's climate policies, with his emasculation of the EPA and his plans to starve federal climate science, it is unclear what the USA government could add to the success of the Paris accord. The coalition includes cities, states and provinces who have signed the worldwide Under 2 MoU agreement promoted by Brown to reduce emissions at faster rates than called for under the Paris agreement on global warming.

On Thursday the European Union said it would contribute 800 million euros (S$1.24 billion) as part of a partnership with 79 nations from the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States to support the Paris Accord. As he may have known, but probably did not, this process, under the terms of the pact, would take three years.

It's one that President Donald Trump himself has made, as has his Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Scott Pruitt, in recent months.

In my previous post, I offered one idea to break the impasse between Trump's advisors on whether the US should remain in or pull out of the Paris agreement. "Even through our hard period, we're still a very reliable member of the global community", Bande said.

In the second camp-let's call it the soft-core camp-are Secretary of State Rex Tillerson; the director of the National Economic Council, Gary Cohn; and the First Daughter, Ivanka Trump. "It's not a great political place for a lot of these leaders to be", he said. But he has since delayed making a decision on it until after an global summit scheduled for later this month, amid reported disagreement among his senior advisers. This, according to several accounts, is owing to the fact that, at one of the sessions, the White House counsel, Don McGahn, argued that the US would open itself up to legal challenges if it remained a party to the agreement while backing away from its Paris commitments. "For the rest of the world this is a central issue for foreign policy".

Meanwhile, a wave of worldwide and domestic lobbying has intensified, with foreign allies and many corporations calling for the stick with the deal, even as United States of America political conservatives push for a withdrawal - matching a similar tension between internationalists and conservatives within the White House itself.

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Government negotiators from throughout the world are hammering out the details of the Paris Agreement such as: nationally determined contributions and adaptation plans; a transparency framework for action and support; clean technology, global stocktaking; implementation and compliance; and financial resources.

Trump and Scott's letter notes that MA and Vermont have made progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. (This is against a baseline year of 2005.) According to the Obama Administration, the target would have been met through a combination of tougher fuel-efficiency standards for cars and new regulations aimed at reducing emissions from power plants. Whether the USA formally leaves the agreement or just ignores it by crafting domestic policies that hurt the environment, it will face the same harms. Also participating were his daughter Ivanka, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and several close advisers, who reportedly favor remaining within the treaty structure. Trump needs to Democrat-proof his agenda and clearly, the best way to do that is to withdraw from the FCCC completely, which he can do without Senate approval. Both countries are cutting coal production and increasing renewable energy.

But regardless of whether - and how - the USA exits the agreement, returning to a role of global environmental leadership under the next administration is possible, and some experts believe, necessary.

On Friday, the USA confirmed it won't give any money this year to the Green Climate Fund, which enables rich countries to help poorer ones deal with the worst impacts of climate change. We are all in, and our joint commitment to this Agreement today is as in Paris: "irreversible and non-negotiable", he added.

In other words, the Administration has already passed up the chance to make the right decision on Paris.

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