Trump anti-climate ghost hangs over UN meeting

2017-05-06 18:46
(Ross D Franklin, AP)

(Ross D Franklin, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Paris - For the first time since Donald Trump's ascent to the White House, UN negotiators gather next week to draft rules to take forward the climate-rescue Paris Agreement he has threatened to abandon.

The mid-year round of haggling in Bonn is meant to begin work on a crucial rule book for signatories of the pact.

But it risks being sidetracked by mounting uncertainty over the world's number two carbon polluter, with Trump at its helm.

"This was supposed to be a highly technical and uneventful meeting to flesh out some of the details in the Paris Agreement. But, obviously, the speculation coming out of Washington is now at the top of our minds," the Maldives environment and energy minister, Thoriq Ibrahim, told AFP.

He chairs the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), a key negotiating bloc in the UN climate forum which will meet from May 8 to 18.

The deal was sealed at the 21st so-called "Conference of Parties" (COP 21) in the French capital in December 2015, after years of haggling.

A diplomatic push led by Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama, and China's Xi Jinping, saw 195 countries and the EU bloc - 196 parties in total - OK the deal to the popping of champagne corks. Palestine has also since joined.

The agreement sets the goal of limiting average global warming to 2°C over pre-Industrial Revolution levels - and 1.5°C if possible.

This will be done by curbing planet-warming greenhouse-gas emissions from burning oil, coal and gas - an objective to which countries have pledged voluntary, nationally-determined "contributions".

Scientists project that on current pledges, Earth is on track for warming of around 3°C - a scenario that would doom the planet to potentially catastrophic droughts, floods, and rising seas.

Distraction

Widely hailed as the last chance to stave off worst-case-scenario global warming, the Paris pact was savaged by Trump during his presidential campaign.

He called climate change a "hoax" perpetrated by China, and promised to "cancel" the deal as president.

With the rest of the world on tenterhooks ever since, Trump has said he will make his decision before the next G7 meeting on May 26 to 27 in Sicily.

"The question of whether this creates a difficult backdrop for the negotiations is clearly a 'yes'," said Paula Caballero, who heads the climate programme at the Washington-based World Resources Institute (WRI).

A State Department official confirmed a US delegation will travel to Bonn, though a "much smaller" one than in recent years.

"We are focused on ensuring that decisions are not taken at these meetings that would prejudice our future policy, undermine the competitiveness of US businesses, or hamper our broader objective of advancing US economic growth and prosperity," said the official, asked about the negotiators' brief.

Some fear a US withdrawal from the agreement would dampen enthusiasm for ramping up national emissions-cutting targets, required to bring them in line with the 2°C target.

"I can see some countries... saying: 'Well, why should we do more if the US is doing less?'," said Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), a veteran observer of the climate negotiations.

Funding cuts

The Trump administration has already proposed slashing funds for the UN's climate convention, which hosts the negotiations; for the UN climate science panel; and for the Green Climate Fund that helps poor countries combat global warming.

There has been a chorus of appeals from business leaders, politicians and NGOs for the US not to abandon the agreement.

Much of the pressure is at home, where businesses, majors and governors have pledged to pursue a clean energy track with or without Trump.

Observers say the momentum, politically at least, is unstoppable.

At the last COP, held in Marrakesh in November, news of Trump's election served to spur countries into reaffirming their commitment to the pact.

"International leadership on climate is more diffuse than before, and other countries are stepping up to lead both within and outside of negotiations," said Caballero - pointing at major polluters China and India cutting back on coal.

In fact, the US may stand to lose the most - in both political and economic influence.

"It would leave America behind while other countries are benefiting from the huge economic opportunities of a transition to cleaner economies," said Caballero.

Negotiators in Bonn, while attempting to take the pulse of the US delegation, must make progress on the "rule book" which has an adoption deadline of end-2018.

The guide must clarify what kind of information countries include when they report on emissions, for example, and what counts as a contribution to climate finance.


Read more on:    donald trump  |  us  |  climate change

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
 

8 great natural remedies for your pet

Tips and tricks to cure your pet’s itches and coughs, naturally.

 
 

Paws

Buying a puppy? Don’t get scammed!
WATCH: These funny animal videos will make you LOL!
11 animals before and after they were adopted from shelters
Competition pet grooming – creative or too extreme?
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.