Friday, June 01, 2018

Trump Has Damaged the Paris Agreement, Say Its Architects

One year on from Donald Trump’s announcement he would withdraw the US from the UN climate pact, leading figures assess the “dire consequences.”

Trump announces he will leave the Paris climate deal in the White House Rose Garden on 1 June, 2017 (Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian) Click to Enlarge.
One year on from the Donald Trump speech that broke the international consensus on climate change, architects of the Paris Agreement say the US has harmed attempts to fight global warming.

On the first day of June last year, Trump ended months of speculation by siding with conservative aides who had urged him to remove the US from the Paris deal.

That “reprehensible decision” has had “dire consequences”, Laurent Fabius, the former French prime minister who presided over the Paris talks in 2015, wrote on the Profiles of Paris website this week.

Todd Stern, Barack Obama’s lead climate envoy who forged compromises with China to make a deal possible, said:  “It is really damaging for the United States to be on the way out.”

The US position is “undermining” continuing negotiations on the implementation of the Paris deal, Stern told a meeting held by the World Resources Institute (WRI) to mark the anniversary of the Trump announcement – and the reaction has been a “mixed bag”.

Initially, it brought statements of resolve from many countries to uphold the agreement.  It also spurred a large coalition of US cities, counties, states, and businesses to declare “we are still in”, despite federal policy.

“Eighteen months later, that same decisiveness is very much evident,” said Paula Cabellero, a former climate diplomat and director of WRI’s international climate program.  “Trump can announce what he will, but the reality on the ground, in the US and around the world, is that efforts to tackle climate change continue regardless and unabated.”

Stern said:  “It wasn’t a foregone conclusion that other countries stayed in [the deal] and doubled down on their general determination not to walk away.”

But Obama’s climate champion was less sanguine about the broader impact of the US position on the international stage.  Stern said he had visited the last two UN climate talks in Bonn, Germany, speaking with dozens of national representatives.

“In the absence of the United States, you have a phenomenon of a fair number of countries, I think, trying to pull back a little bit on some of the things that were agreed to, some of the compromises that were reached in Paris,” he said.

During what Stern described as the “big moment” in Paris, the US had convinced countries to make concessions “maybe past even the point where they were entirely comfortable”.

“So having done that, [for the US to] turn around and say ‘actually never mind, we’re gone – that is a very difficult dynamic,” said Stern.

The Paris deal allowed countries to set their own climate targets.  Collectively, the initial national goals would only limit warming to around 3C – falling short of the “well below 2C” goal.  The agreement put in place legal mechanisms to compel nations to revisit and increase their ambition.

“When you get to the point of talking about ratcheting up what you’re going to do, looking at the United States not acting… I think some countries will say I’m going to do more, and some countries will say we are going to do less,” said Stern.

Read more at Trump Has Damaged the Paris Agreement, Say Its Architects

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