Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Climate Advocates in Bonn Stumped by Trump Dilemma

Donald Trump (Photo Credit: Evan Guest/Flickr) Click to Enlarge.
As negotiators at the latest UN climate conference in Bonn ground through procedural matters inside the plenary, the media was only interested in one thing: Agenda Item Trump.

US president Donald Trump has vowed to remove his country from the Paris climate agreement.  But a rearguard action from his advisers has raised the prospect of the US remaining.

Energy secretary Rick Perry has said the US should “renegotiate” the deal – widely interpreted to mean a downward revision of its national target.  But legal advisers to Trump reportedly warned of potential legal action against the federal government if it tries to water down commitments.

A schism has emerged among defenders of the Paris Agreement over how to respond.  In an attempt to defuse the legal argument last week, the EU commissioner on climate change Miguel Arias Cañete told the Financial Times the US could “chart its own path” under the rules of the accord.

French diplomat Laurence Tubiana, a key architect of the Paris accord, in contrast emphasized its intention to ramp up ambition over time.

“The text is very clear.  The sense of the direction is really progress; it’s not going backwards,” Tubiana told E&E News.

That has left those at the Bonn climate meeting, which started on Monday, scrambling for an answer.  Negotiators and environmentalists at the talks privately told Climate Home there was confusion around a message.

Cañete’s position is technically correct, according to legal experts.  The text does give room for what negotiators refer to as “backsliding”.  But the wider political context is summed up by the phrase “the spirit of the agreement”.

The concern, touched on by Tubiana, is that allowing the US to reduce their ambition would undermine a fundamental tenet of the agreement.  Countries need to do more, not less, if their contributions are ever to add up to the overarching goal of holding global temperature rise “well below 2C”.

At a press conference on Monday, representatives of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) had a bet each way.

Read more at Climate Advocates in Bonn Stumped by Trump Dilemma

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