Home Today's Paper Most Popular Video Gallery Photo Gallery
Subscription Blog Signin Register
Logo
Tuesday, May 23, 2017 10:57:09 PM
Follow Us On: Facebook Twitter Twitter Twitter Twitter

Global climate policy in an uncertain state

By
11th-May-2017       Readers ( 65 )   0 Comments
Comments
Share your thought
Post a comment »
Read all (0) »

Martin Khor :
What would happen if the US leaves the Paris agreement? It would be a big blow to global cooperation, especially since the US is the top emitter after China, and is also by far a bigger emitter per capita than China and most other countries. Credit: Bigstock.
What would happen if the US leaves the Paris agreement? It would be a big blow to global cooperation, especially since the US is the top emitter after China, and is also by far a bigger emitter per capita than China and most other countries. Credit: Bigstock.
PENANG, Malaysia, May 8 2017 (IPS) - Global climate change policy is in a state of flux, with all other countries waiting for the United States to decide whether to leave or remain in the Paris Agreement.
That treaty, adopted by 195 countries with great fanfare in December 2015 and  came into force in November 2016, symbolizes the efforts of governments to cooperate to avert disastrous global warming that threatens human survival.
On 29 April, the 100th day of Donald Trump's presidency, thousands marched in Washington and other cities in the US and around the world to protest against the administration's about-turn in climate policy.
Trump signed an executive order at the end of March unraveling former President Barrack Obama's clean power plan, the centerpiece of his policy to reduce emissions causing global warming.  The plan would have closed hundreds of coal-fired power plants and replaced them with new wind and solar farms.
Further reflecting the policy changes, the Environmental Protection Agency last week removed climate change information from its website, saying it would be undergoing changes to better reflect the administration's priorities.
The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change is now meeting for two weeks in Bonn to discuss rules to follow up on the Paris Agreement. Uppermost in the minds of the thousands of delegates and NGOs will be the uncertainty caused by the new US position. Trump is expected to soon announce if the US will exit the Paris Agreement.  The administration is split, with one camp (that includes EPA chief Scott Pruitt and Trump's chief strategist Steve Bannon) wanting the US to quit while others (including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and Trump's son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner) advocate that the US remains.
The big change in US climate policy comes at a very bad time. Last month, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere for the first time reached 410 ppm (parts per million) in the Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii.
The level was 280 ppm in 1958 and passed 400ppm in 2013.  We are inching closer to the 450 ppm danger level at which there is only a 50% chance of keeping global temperature rise to 2 degrees celsius.
The year 2016 is the hottest on record.  Many recent signs of climate change effects include sea level rise; changes in rainfall; more flooding, storms, and drought in different parts of the world; and the melting of glaciers. The hard-fought Paris Agreement has many flaws, but it is an important achievement. One drawback is that the mitigation pledges made by countries fall far short of limiting warming to 1.5 or 2 degrees.  Instead they would bring about 2.7 to near 4 degree temperature rise, according to various estimates, and the effects would be catastrophic.
The agreement also does not contain concrete commitments or plans by developed countries to assist developing countries to tackle climate change.  There remains the old promise to jack up climate finance to $100 billion a year by 2020, but no road map on how to get there, nor even an agreed definition of what constitutes North-to-South climate financing.
There is also little left of the old commitment to transfer climate technology to developing countries.  And while there is interest to help developing countries to curb their emissions (which is known as mitigation), there is less appetite to help them cope with the effects of climate change (which is termed adaptation and loss and damage). Despite these deficiencies, the Paris Agreement has positive aspects which make it an important treaty. Almost all countries made pledges to take concrete actions. While participation is thus widespread, differences in obligations as between developed and developing countries remain in the Paris agreement, in line with the Climate Convention.
The agreement mandates that developed countries make greater efforts than developing countries on mitigation, and they are also obliged to provide climate funds to developing countries.
Most important, the Paris agreement is a symbol and manifestation of international cooperation to tackle the climate crisis. Although the overall level of ambition is too low, the agreement has mechanisms to urge members to increase the ambition in both mitigation and in assistance to developing countries in future.
There might however be a situation of the worst of both worlds: The US announces it is quitting, thus already damaging global cooperation, then plays a spoiler's game inside, since it will still be a member for four more years.
Without a Paris agreement, there would be no global framework or action plan for the coming decades. The world would be adrift even as the crisis worsens.
What would happen if the US leaves the Paris agreement?  It would be a big blow to global cooperation, especially since the US is the top emitter after China, and is also by far a bigger emitter per capita than China and most other countries.
There is also a fear of a contagion effect. Some other countries may follow the US and quit the agreement too.
In an opinion article, former UN Secretary General Ban Ki moon and Harvard University professor Robert Stavins have strongly argued that the US must stay inside the Paris agreement, for the sake of the world and for its own interests.
They also point out that even if Trump decides the pull the US out, this withdrawal will only take effect after four years, due to the rules of the agreement.
They add that if the US wants a quicker exit, it can quit the Climate Convention, under which the Paris agreement is established. This exit will take effect after a year. But if it leaves the Convention, the US would really become a "pariah" and thus it is unlikely to do so.
In any case, the US will still be a member of the Paris agreement during the rest of Trump's present term.
It is unlikely to be a passive member, whether or not it gives notice to exit from Paris.  There is a growing consensus among Trump's advisers that the US can't stay in the Paris agreement unless it negotiates new terms, according to a report in Politico.
While it it is impossible to renegotiate the Paris deal, Trump's officials are 'discussing leveraging the uncertainty over the U.S. position to boost the White House's policy priorities in future discussions,' said the article.
If this happens, the effect may be really adverse.  Since the US will be in the Paris agreement for the next four years at least, it may use this period to weaken further the already low level of ambition of its own actions as well as those of other countries.
The US will also try to weaken or eliminate the commitments of developed countries to support the developing countries. Trump has already made clear there will be no more US contributions to the Green Climate Fund.
It will also dampen any discussions on how climate financing can be jacked up in the years ahead towards the promised $100 billion by 2020.
Some people have argued it may better if the US leaves the Paris agreement and that prevents it from discouraging all the others that remain from taking action.
There might however be a situation of the worst of both worlds: The US announces it is quitting, thus already damaging global cooperation, then plays a spoiler's game inside, since it will still be a member for four more years.
It was thus heartening that US citizens are protesting against their government's climate change policies.
It is also important for people and governments in the rest of the world to strengthen their resolve to fight climate change, rather than to relax now that the US leadership is refusing to do its part.
The best solution would be for the US to remain in the Paris agreement, and go along with other countries to meet and improve on their pledges and enable international cooperation to thrive.
That is not going to happen. So we may have to wait at least four years before another US administration rejoins the rest of the world to tackle climate change.  Let's hope it will not be really too late by then to save the world.
(Martin Khor is Executive Director of the South Centre, a think tank for developing countries, based in Geneva).

0 Comments. Share your thoughts also.
Write a comment
Tariff
Add Rate

News Archive

Inside The New Nation

Editorial »

Police can`t commit excesses like politicians


MEMBERS of law enforcement agencies or police for that matter surely have the professional right to conduct search operations based on accurate tip-offs but that doesn't mean it can wreak havoc and cause chaos in the name of such professional duty. The police search operations at main opposition party BNP ...

Football »

Dhaka Abahani emerge group champions beating Muktijoddha SKC 1-0


Defending champion Dhaka Abahani Limited emerged Group A champions to reach the quarterfinal of the Federation Cup Football Tournament beating Muktijoddha Sangsad KC by 1-0 goal in the last Group A match at the Bangabandhu National Stadium here on Monday.Rubel Mia scored the match-winner for popular sky-blue Dhanmondi outfit in ...

Entertainment »

Rhea Chakraborty snips her long tresses for Half Girlfriend


The actress plays a spirited Indo-American in the Arjun Kapoor-Shraddha Kapoor starrer Half Girlfriend, and to fit her character, she had to chop her long locks - an act she hasn't done for many years. “I’ve always had long hair and it’s something I’m proud of. Apart from trimming ends, ...

Entertainment »

Tendulkar family to grace TV screens together for the first time


Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar will be seen promoting his biographical drama, Sachin: A Billion Dreams, on a Marathi chat show. Midst the much anticipation of the film Sachin: A billion dreams that marks the most iconic moments of the cricketing legend, the God of cricket will indulge in a light ...

City »

Deputy Prince of Saudi Arabia Soud Bin Khaled Al Faisal welcomed Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina upon her arrival at Prince Mohammad Bin Abdul Aziz Airport, Medina in Saudi Arabia on Monday.


International »

Iran reformists sweep Tehran municipal council election


AP, Tehran :Candidates backing reform of Iran's clerically overseen government swept municipal elections in Tehran, taking all 21 local council seats in the country's capital while moderate President Hassan Rouhani won a second term in office, authorities said on Monday.Their win in Friday's election marks the first time reformists have ...

Editorial »

Jewellery business in Bangladesh cannot be run legally


THE jewellery business in Bangladesh has reportedly been thriving despite there being no import of gold into the country through legal channels. First of all the prevailing predicament is not a new phenomenon and is being continuing for the last three decades. How has it been made possible? Are we ...

Sports »

A view of the match of the Saif Power Tec Dhaka Metropolis Senior Division Football League between Friends Social Welfare Organization and Dhaka United Sporting Club at the Bir Shreshtha Shaheed Sepoy Mohammad Mostafa Kamal Stadium in Kamalapur on Sunday. Friends Social Welfare Organization beat Dhaka United Sporting Club by two goals to nil.


Cricket »

Jaydev Unadkat celebrates a sensational return catch to dismiss Lendl Simmons during the IPL final match between Mumbai Indians and Rising Pune Supergiant at Hyderabad on Sunday.


City »

Bangladesh Medical Association formed a human chain in front of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University in the city on Sunday demanding exemplary punishment to those involved in attacking physicians and hospitals.


Entertainment »

Shilpa Shetty, husband Raj Kundra get anticipatory bail in cheating case


The district court in Thane yesterday granted anticipatory bail to actress Shilpa Shetty, her businessman husband Raj Kundra and three others in a cheating case filed by a textile firm owner. The court had earlier granted the accused interim protection from arrest. Additional Sessions Judge Sangeeta Khalipe said in her ...

Entertainment »

Dia Mirza to play Sanjay Dutt’s wife in the biopic, not Maanayata Dutt’s lookalike


Sanjay Dutt’s biopic is making a lot of noise much before its release. First, Ranbir Kapoor’s pictures resembling Dutt were leaked and had gone viral in no time. A few days back, there were speculations that filmmaker Rajkumar Hirani has found a fresh actor, who looks pretty much like Dutt’s ...

International »

Rouhani draws fire from US after election win


AFP, Tehran :Iran's President Hassan Rouhani was still celebrating his resounding re-election victory on Saturday when he came under pressure from the country's long-standing foe the United States.Rouhani, a 68-year-old moderate cleric who spearheaded a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, said Iranians had chosen the "path of engagement" and ...

Cricket »

An action from the match of the Saif Power Tec Dhaka Metropolis Senior Division Football League between Jatrabari Krira Chakra and Bashabo Tarun Sangha at the Bir Shreshtha Shaheed Sepoy Mohammad Mostafa Kamal Stadium in Kamalapur on Saturday. The match ended in 1-1 draw.


Cricket »

Steven Finn made good ground for a catch during the Specsavers County Championship, Division One match between Middlesex and Surrey at Lord's on Saturday.


 
Items that you save may be read at any time on your computer, iPad, iPhone or Android devices.
 
Are you new to our website? Do you have already an account at our website?
Create An Account Log in here
Email this news to a friend or like someone
Email:
Write a comment to this news