Paris: President Donald Trump announced America’s shocking withdrawal from the Paris climate accord on Thursday, prompting a furious global backlash and throwing efforts to slow global warming into serious doubt.
In a sharply nationalistic address from the White House Rose Garden, Trump announced the United States would immediately stop implementing the “bad” 195-nation accord. “I cannot, in good conscience, support a deal that punishes the United States,” he said, decrying the “draconian financial and economic burdens the agreement imposes on our country.”
Hours after Trump’s pullout from the climate pact, world leaders reacted with anger condemning the US President’s decision as misguided and vowed to defend an accord they portrayed as crucial for the planet’s future.
But before the debate, let’s have a look at the key facts about the Paris climate agreement, and what is at stake following the shock withdrawal:
The Agreement – an overview
On December 12, 2015, 195 countries gathered in the French capital to conclude the first truly universal climate treaty, the Paris Agreement, aimed at preventing the worst-case scenarios of global warming. Nicaragua and Syria are the only countries to not participate in the Paris accord, the former seeing it as not ambitious enough and the latter being racked by a brutal civil war.
Collective effort – The Paris Agreement focusses upon building and strengthening a pact- bringing all the nations together for the first time. This agreement focuses on making collective effort to battle climate change and adapt its effects, with enhanced support to encourage and assist developing countries to do so.
The 2 degrees agenda – The central aim of the Paris agreement is the global target of responding to the threat of climate change by keeping global average temperatures from rising above 2 degrees (compared to temperatures pre-industrial revolution) by the end of the century. Beyond 2 degrees, there is a risk of intensely higher seas, altering weather patterns, food and water crises, and an overall more hostile world.
The helping aid to the developing countries – it is a fact that when it comes to global emissions, there is fundamental inequality. The rich countries have done their share of damage by burning huge amounts of fossil fuels for a very long time, shunning the poor and vulnerable countries from using the same fuel. But now it’s time to share the burden.
So as part of the Paris agreement, richer countries, are supposed to send $100 billion a year in aid by 2020 to the poorer countries. And that amount is set to increase over time. Again, like the other provisions of the agreement, this isn’t an absolute mandate. The agreement also provides for enhanced transparency of action and support through a more robust transparency framework.
Capacity-building support – The Paris Agreement reiterates the duties of developed countries to encourage and support the efforts of developing countries by inviting voluntary contributions from different countries. The agreement aims at building a clean climate resilient future for every country, regardless of its development status. It also focusses to achieve a balance between mitigation and adaptation.
The follow-up- In 2018, delegates are supposed to resume and provide apprises about their emission initiatives, and report on how they’re becoming more constructive on accomplishing the 2-degree goal.
There will also be a global stocktake every 5 years to assess the collective progress towards achieving the purpose of the Agreement and to inform further individual actions by Parties.
The US withdrawal – what’s at stake
The United States is the world’s second largest emitter of greenhouse gases after China, so Trump’s decision could seriously hamper efforts to cut emissions and limit global temperature increases.
Another risky consequence of the withdrawal is that other countries could decide to scale back their own individual efforts to tackle global warming. It was hinted before that if the US pulls out altogether, the chances increase that developing countries like Brazil or India back away from their own commitments, said Andrew Light, a former senior climate negotiator at the State Department who is now at the World Resources Institute.
Trump’s announcement comes less than 18 months after the climate pact was adopted in the French capital, the fruit of a hard-fought agreement between Beijing and Washington under Obama’s leadership.
Although the decision of the United States might affect the delicate international coalition, the highly emblematic Paris Climate Agreement will live on.
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