Climate advocates concerned over Trump win

Marrakech, Morocco – The third day of the 22nd Conference of Parties (COP) began with news of the United States electing Donald Trump as its new president, worrying many climate justice advocates at the prospect of the US pulling out from the Paris Agreement.

Donald Trump has been vocal about being against the Paris Agreement. In an energy conference last May 2016 in North Dakota, he was quoted saying he would “cancel” the Paris climate deal and “stop all payments of US tax dollars to UN global warming programmes.” Trump is also a non-believer of man-made climate change tweeting, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” He also said his energy plan included more drilling and more production of oil, coal, and natural gas.

“Donald Trump now has the unflattering distinction of being the only head of state in the entire world to reject the scientific consensus that mankind is driving climate change,” said Michael Brune, Executive Director of The Sierra Club.

Other organisations also reminded the new president that climate change will not wait for anyone, including the US.

“The world won’t wait for the US and neither will the climate. This year the impacts of climate change cost the US hundreds of billions of dollars and put 40 million people in Southern Africa alone at risk of hunger. The next President needs to work with congress to go further faster to cut emissions and protect the rights of men and women on the front lines of the climate crisis,” said Annaka Peterson, Senior Program Officer of Oxfam America.

It can be remembered that the US also did not ratify the first climate treaty which was the Kyoto Protocol. The Protocol’s goal was to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG)  with binding emission-reduction targets. Developed countries were tasked to cut their GHG emissions by 5% based on 1990 levels by 2008-2012. However, the US, one of the largest GHG emitters, never ratified it and then President George W. Bush later completely withdrew from the treaty. And with the China and India not signing the treaty and Canada eventually also withdrawing, experts have agreed at its failure.

In fact, data show that carbon emissions have only gone up since 1997, when the Kyoto Protocol was first agreed on and has resulted to a rise in global temperature. The world has warmed 1 degree celsius above pre-industrial levels. Last year in Paris, countries agreed to pursue efforts to limit global warming at 1.5 degrees celsius.

Fears of the US again withdrawing from the Paris Agreement has been raised. For many, it is imperative for big emitters, especially the US and China, to take part in the said treaty. Last September, both countries had a joint announcement on ratifying the climate deal. Last November 4, with 100 countries ratifying, the Paris Agreement has officially entered into force. Will the United States still be committed to climate action or will their new administration be a big step back and undo all the work that has been put into it the last few years?

““The Paris Agreement was signed and ratified not by a President, but by the United States itself. As a matter of international law, and as a matter of human survival, the nations of the world can, must, and will hold the United States to its climate commitments,” said Carol Muffet, President of Centre for International Environmental Law.

Meanwhile, World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) Senior Director Marianna Panuncio-Feldman sees it as an “opportunity to surge forward to climate action.”

“The Obama administration moved mountains to rally the world around combatting climate change. Our new president needs to carry that legacy forward and make good on the promise to make America into the world’s clean energy superpower. US leadership is needed to turn the international consensus of the Paris Agreement into concrete global action, and it starts by charting our own path to a low-carbon future,” Feldman said.


Originally published at GMA News