BY VISHAL GULATI
New Delhi, Nov 5 (IANS) The day the US — the second-largest emitter after China — legally left the Paris Agreement aimed to avert the threat of catastrophic climate change, the UN Climate Change, nations and non-profit organizations said they must ensure the international treaty is implemented in full with all US stakeholders and partners around the world.
The UN climate change fighting deal forged five years ago is backed by former US President Barack Obama and 2020 Democratic candidate Joe Biden, but opposed by current American President Donald Trump. According to the US Department of State, on Wednesday the US began the process to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.
Chile, France, Italy, the UK and the UN Climate Change on Wednesday said they will be celebrating the five-year anniversary of the Paris Climate Agreement on December 12 to which nearly 200 nations are signatories.
“We must ensure that it is implemented in full. We note with regret that the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement has formally come into effect today (November 4),” they said in a joint statement.
“As we look towards COP26 in Glasgow, we remain committed to working with all US stakeholders and partners around the world to accelerate climate action, and with all signatories to ensure the full implementation of the Paris Agreement.”
They said there is no greater responsibility than protecting the planet and people from the threat of climate change.
“The science is clear that we must urgently scale up action and work together to reduce the impacts of global warming and to ensure a greener, more resilient future for us all. The Paris Agreement provides the right framework to achieve this. Our efforts must include support for those countries and communities at the frontline of climate change. It is vital that we take renewed action to hold the temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius and take best efforts to limit warming to 1.5 degrees,” they added.
The US, the first in the world to formally withdraw from the Paris agreement, promised emissions cuts accounted for about 20 percent of global reductions. The US directly subsidises the fossil fuel industry approximately $20 billion per year. Currently, it is emitting 17.9 percent greenhouse gases.
President Trump announced the withdrawal in 2017, stopping an Obama-era pledge to cut emissions.
“The US withdrawal has huge implications for the rest of the world in terms of tackling the climate crisis. The US leaving the Paris climate agreement demonstrates what’s at stake in this election. What we need now is all hands on deck for global climate leadership.” May Boeve Executive Director of 350.org said in a statement to IANS.
“If the US exit from the Paris climate deal became permanent, it would threaten to further weaken its enforcement measures and undermine the resolve of other countries to make their own tough cuts.”
Echoing similar sentiments, Helen Mountford, Vice-President (Climate and Economics), World Resources Institute, said the decision to leave the Paris Agreement was wrong when it was announced and “is still wrong today”.
“The climate crisis is a threat to America’s prosperity and wellbeing, and most Americans want the government to pursue the goals outlined in the Agreement. Simply put, the United States should stay with the other 189 parties to the Agreement, not go out alone. The US should be at the forefront of global efforts to stave off the climate crisis.”
Describing an irresponsible behaviour, Laurence Tubiana, former President of COP21 and currently the Head of European Climate Foundation, informed in a tweet, “World will move on. But keep going, US, will come back it is not the first time.”
Sonam Phuntsho Wangdi, the Chair of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) Group at UN talks, said: “A bold, cooperative global response is urgently needed to address climate change. For the LDCs the impacts are especially devastating. We must work together to build a safe world for present and future generations.”
As noted in Trump’s June 1, 2017 remarks, he made the decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement because of the unfair economic burden imposed on American workers, businesses, and taxpayers by US pledges made under the Agreement.
“The US has reduced all types of emissions, even as we grow our economy and ensure our citizens’ access to affordable energy. Our results speak for themselves: US emissions of criteria air pollutants that impact human health and the environment declined by 74 per cent between 1970 and 2018. US net greenhouse gas emissions dropped 13 per cent from 2005-2017, even as our economy grew over 19 per cent,” it said.
Climate action is unstoppable, remarked Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies, saying the US cities, states and businesses that, as part of America’s Pledge, are working to fill the climate leadership gap and keep the US on track with the goals of the Paris agreement.
“While the Trump administration pulled out of the Paris agreement, the American people never supported that decision — and cities and states and businesses across the country resolved to do their part to stay in,” Bloomberg said.
COP26 President-Designate and British Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Alok Sharma said in a tweet on Wednesday, “We note with regret the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement today. As COP26 Presidency, we will continue to work with all parties to implement this landmark agreement.”
The COP26, or climate talks, was originally set to take place in Glasgow in November 2020 under the presidency of Britain. Now host Britain deferred the talks until November 2021 owing to coronavirus pandemic.
To tackle climate change and its negative impacts, 197 countries adopted the Paris Agreement at the COP21 in Paris on December 12, 2015.
Entered into force less than a year later, the deal aims to substantially reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and to limit the global temperature increase in this century to 2 degrees Celsius while pursuing means to limit the increase even further to 1.5 degrees.
(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at [email protected])