US President Donald Trump has announced that his country will withdraw from the 2015 Paris Agreement, the international treaty aimed at taking action against climate change.
Trump criticised the Paris Agreement throughout his Presidential campaign last year, and has repeatedly declined to support climate action since he took oath as President in January 2017.
Foreign leaders, scientists, business executives, and even his own daughter, Ivanka Trump, tried to convince Trump to keep the US in the Paris Agreement. But they failed to shake his belief that the deal hurt American interests.
Stating that he was the leader of “Pittsburg, not Paris”, Trump said the US will seek a new deal and will renegotiate under terms more favourable to its economy.
World leaders and climate activists sharply criticised the move. UN Secretary-General called the move “a major disappointment” while US Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer called it”one of the worst policy moves made in the 21st century”.
Leaving the Paris Agreement will take almost four years – right up to the next US Presidential election – but Trump stated that the US will immediately halt implementation of the Agreement, which it has blamed for killing jobs and the coal industry.
The Paris Agreement
The Paris Agreement, also known as COP21, is an international agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It was adopted in December 2015 at the 21st Conference of Parties (COP) of the UNFCCC.
With 195 countries on board as signatories, COP21 is aimed at mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, encouraging usage of renewable energy, and taking action against man-made climate change, which has led to rise in sea levels and global temperatures.
Trump’s non-commitment to climate action
Donald Trump has a history of climate change denial. He repeatedly criticised the Paris Agreement during his Presidential campaign and even denied the existence of global warming, calling it a ruse by China to hurt US manufacturing.
Contesting that the Paris Agreement expected too much from the US and that it would kill American jobs whilst giving an advantage to the rest of the world, Trump announced his decision on 1 June from the White House.
This begins the long process of US withdrawal from COP21. The Paris Agreement itself will only go into effect in 2020, and America’s withdrawal will take three-and-a-half years. However, Trump announced that the US will begin halting the implementation of the Agreement immediately.
World leaders were united in their opposition to Trump’s decision. Trump also faced considerable domestic opposition, particularly from the Democrats. Former US President Barack Obama condemned Trump for “rejecting the future” while former Secretary of State John Kerry called it a “gross abdication of leadership”.
In a ray of hope, India, China, and the European Union announced renewed commitment to preserving COP21 and engaging in climate action. A few days ago, both India and China declared solidarity with COP21 in Berlin, saying that even if Trump decided to leave the Agreement, they would remain dedicated to cutting emissions and championing clean energy.
The Logical Indian take
Few meetings actually have the potential to affect everyone on the planet. The Paris Agreement is one of them. Cutting carbon emissions and reducing the use of fossil fuels will affect how the world produces food, the rate of poverty alleviation, how electricity is brought to billions of people, and in many other areas. At the same time, it is important because the earth cannot afford more greenhouse gas emissions.
Every year since 1995, the Conference of Parties (COP) has being held but the world leaders have failed to reach to any consensus on how to reduce greenhouse gases emissions. In 2005, the first treaty -the Kyoto Protocol, which was established in 1997 – was consented by most nations except the US.
Now, even the Paris Agreement seems threatened by US withdrawal.
“History is calling,” the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had said to leaders in Paris on 1 December. He reminded them of the abject lack of time we were facing and the abundant responsibility they were carrying.
In December 2015, it seemed as if we beat the historical odds and were now better equipped than ever before to face the challenges of the future. But today, with the US leaving COP21, the future has become entirely uncertain again.