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Trump’s global warning: US launches process to exit Paris climate agreement

US officially informs UN it will withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, pressing ahead with President Donald Trump’s announcement in June.

world Updated: Aug 05, 2017 22:38 IST
Yashwant Raj
Demonstrators protesting President Donald Trump’s decision to exit the Paris climate change accord, on June 2 in Chicago.
Demonstrators protesting President Donald Trump’s decision to exit the Paris climate change accord, on June 2 in Chicago.(AFP file photo)

The United States on Friday formally communicated to the UN its intent to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate “as soon as it is eligible to do so” but left the door open for re-joining if and when terms were “more favorable to it”.

President Donald Trump announced in June he was pulling the US out of the accord alleging it unfairly favoured countries such as India and China at the expense of America, but had said he was open to re-negotiating the deal.

His offer was was rejected by most signatories, who vowed to press ahead with the Paris deal that aims to prevent the Earth from heating up by 2 degrees Celsius since the start of the industrial age.

A state department statement, however, said the US will continue to participate in international climate change negotiations and meetings, including the 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP-23) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The US will be sending delegations to COP-23 in Bonn, Germany in November and such other conferences and meetings, according to a state department official who spoke on the background.

“As the President indicated in his June 1 announcement and subsequently, he is open to re-engaging in the Paris Agreement if the United States can identify terms that are more favourable to it, its businesses, its workers, its people, and its taxpayers,” the statement said.

The president had then insisted that leaving the accord would not diminish America’s commitment to protecting the environment but the series of measures ordered by him rolling back some of President Barack Obama’s green regulations — such as those pertaining to mining of coal, for instance — would have severely limited the ability of the US to fulfill its commitments.

Underlining Trump’s position, the statement said the US supports a balanced approach to climate policy that lowers emissions while promoting economic growth and ensuring energy security.

The US is on a very short list of countries with Syria and Nicaragua that are not a part of the global pact signed by 195 countries in 2015 and that came into effect last November, the month Trump was elected president running on the promise of ending America’s association with it.

The impact of the US exit on global warming will be severe. Climate Interactive, which tracks global emissions and pledges, estimates that if the US doesn’t reach its Paris Agreement goal an additional 0.3 degrees Celsius will be added to global warming by the end of the century.

Climate Action Tracker, another outfit, expects lesser impact — additional 0.1 to 0.2 degrees Celsius by 2100.

Associateed Press said the earliest the US can be out of the climate agreement is November 4, 2020 -- the day after the next presidential election.

“The state department is telling the UN what the president already told the world on June 1 and it has no legal effect,” said Nigel Purvis, who directed US climate diplomacy during the Bill Clinton and George W Bush administrations.

Purvis said countries can’t withdraw from new international agreements, including the Paris climate one, until three years after they go into effect. Then the process takes a year.

The state department cited the same timeline, saying it can officially start withdrawing as soon as November, 2019.

Under Obama, the US agreed to reduce polluting emissions more than a quarter from 2005 levels by the year 2025. There is no climate court. All that’s required in the agreement is a plan and reporting on progress toward reaching self-set goals.

(With agency inputs)