Photo: UN Climate Change / Flickr
Global climate leaders who attended COP22 are dedicated to moving forward with the Paris Climate Agreement, notwithstanding Trump’s election.
After decades of contentious climate negotiations, last year at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris, nearly 200 countries agreed to take actions needed to curb emissions in an attempt to prevent our climate from exceeding 2 degrees warming, above which scientists expect irreversible climatic catastrophes.
The Paris Agreement was officially instated on November 4th of this year after meeting the requirement that mandated at least 55 nations representing more than 55 percent of global emissions ratify the pact. Today, the pact includes over 110 countries representing more than 75 percent of global emissions.
Climate Policy Under Trump
On the second day of this year’s COP22, in Marrakech, Morocco, Donald Trump became President-elect of the United States, putting a somber mood on the jovial sentiments spurred by ratifying the Paris Agreement. Trump’s election poses increased uncertainty about global climate action.
The Obama Administration, under the Paris Accord, agreed to reduce emissions 26 to 28 percent by 2025. Most of these reductions are set to come from the Clean Power Plan — which is speeding up the death of the coal industry — and Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency (CAFE) standards for automobiles.
The US President-elect tweeted that climate change is a hoax created by the Chinese, said he would “cancel” the Paris agreement, dismantle the Clean Power Plan — currently combated in court — and selected climate skeptics Mike Catanzaro and Myron Ebell to lead the energy and EPA transitions, respectively. In other words, the reality-TV-celebrity-turned-president is prepared to bulldoze all climate progress achieved under the Obama Administration.
Obama ratified the Paris Accord as an “executive agreement,” which didn’t require congressional consent. The Accord includes a 4-year delay period for any nation that decides to leave; if Trump disregarded U.S. involvement, he would be breaking international law. He could leave the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) altogether, which would speed the process up to one year. The climate skeptic could also simply fail to follow through with the Agreement without officially leaving the pact.
There will undoubtedly by consequences for international relations if the U.S., under Trump, leaves or disregard the pact. Former president of France Nicolas Sarkozy encouraged an import tax on U.S. goods if Trump trashes the Accord.
The Donald does not have the power to “cancel” the Paris agreement altogether; however, it could disincentivize countries to follow through with their own commitments if the United States disregards the deal.
Climate Action Continues
Despite the likely and unfortunate future of U.S. federal climate policy – or the lack thereof – global leaders from both the public and private sector and market forces support momentum to confront global warming and honor the Paris Agreement.
“Country after country here in Marrakech made it crystal clear over the last week,” stated Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists, “they intend to implement and strengthen the Paris Agreement.”
Liu Zhenmin, China’s vice foreign minister, made a statement refuting Trump’s unfounded claim that his country invented climate change, citing negotiations during the Regan and Bush area, prior to Chinese involvement. He also affirmed that China would continue to take action to prevent climate change “whatever the circumstances.” Although the Red Dragon is the biggest global emitter of greenhouse gas emissions, in 2015 it made the largest global investment in renewable energy and is on track to meet its target emissions reductions laid out in the Paris Agreement.
The European Union is also dedicated to moving forward with the Agreement, as Giovanni La Via of the European Parliament said, “the EU will deliver on its commitments whatever happens.”
In an attempt to counter concerns about a U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, John Kerry, U.S. Secretary of State, said, “I can tell you with confidence that the United States is right now, today, on our way to meeting all of the international targets that we’ve set, and because of the market decisions that are being made, I do not believe that that can or will be reversed.”
Even if Trump disregards the pact and related domestic emissions reductions initiatives, cheap natural gas supplies and reduced costs in solar and wind power pose tough competition for the crumbling coal industry. Automakers have also been curtailing future vehicles to adhere with fuel efficiency standards (CAFE standards) although some automakers asked for an adjustment to these regulations.
Over 350 corporations including Dupont, Ebay, Nike, Staples, Hewlett Packard, Hilton, Ikea, Kellogs, Levis and Monsanto signed a letter to encourage Trump to honor the Paris Agreement and pledged “to do our part, in our own operations and beyond, to realize the Paris Agreement’s commitment to a global economy that limits global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius.”
Mayors from around the world are also taking localized action to combat climate change. The Global Covenant of Mayors, comprised of the Compact of Mayors and the EU Covenant of Mayors that collectively represent over 7 thousand cities, has already reduced emissions by 23 percent from the 2005 baseline year and is dedicated to continued efforts.
Resolutions from COP22 Marrakech
As the negotiations came to a close last week, participants at COP22 discussed issues of compliance, transparency and a Paris Agreement “rulebook”, which will be confirmed at COP24 Poland in 2018. Questions about who will fund climate adaptation in developing countries were postponed until next year’s conference in Fiji.
Also of note, Germany, Australia and Canada collectively donated $50 million USD to establish a fund dedicated to emissions accounting transparency; Marrakech Action Platform highlighted the fact that even if all countries meet their targets outlined in the Paris Agreement, the planet is on track to exceed 2 degrees warming; the U.S. outlined an optimistic plan to reach 80 percent emissions reductions by 2050; 47 developing countries committed to going 100 percent renewable by 2050; and the 2050 Pathways Platform was established to help public and private entities ramp up long term mitigation.
No Room for Climate Deniers
In accordance with intolerance for climate denialism, three climate skeptics – including Marc Morano of Climate Depot who ripped up a copy of the Accord wearing a Trump hat — were kicked out of the conference; and, over 550,000 people signed a petition to U.S. climate delegates requesting the restriction of fossil-fuel lobbyists from participating in future negotiations.
Although the carbon war continues, the troops fighting for a greener tomorrow are hopeful. As Jonathan Pershing, U.S. climate envoy said “[We’ve] had a set of truly impressive activities taking place in and around the COP [Marrakaech] to mobilize business, the finance sector, subnational governments, and other climate leaders. This COP is about much more than negotiations; it’s an important signpost on the pathway to a low-emission, climate-resilient economy, and the world is accelerating on that pathway.”