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Global impact of Trump climate rollback to be felt over time: UN

The full impact of President Donald Trump’s decision to roll back US climate change policies will be clear over a period of time, a UN official has said.

world Updated: Mar 31, 2017 19:05 IST
Climate change,President Donald Trump,Trump's climate policies
File photo of US President Donald Trump talking to journalists at the White House after the AHCA health care bill was pulled before a vote in Washington on March 24, 2017. (Reuters)

The global impact of President Donald Trump’s plan to unwind US climate change policies is “unclear” and will only emerge over time, the United Nation’s top climate official said on Friday.

In an executive order and a budget proposal, Trump has moved to peel back national policies designed to lower US carbon emissions and meet greenhouse gas reduction pledges under the 196-nation UN Paris climate treaty.

“The precise impact on the secretariat and on global climate action linked with these various announcements remains unclear at this juncture,” said Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of the UN body that shepherded the Paris deal into existence.

The approval of US federal budgets, which must be voted by Congress, “involves long and complex negotiations”, she said in a statement.

“I, like many people and organisations around the globe, are watching these developments with interest.”

Trump’s plan to ease emissions limits for coal-fired power plants and scrap more stringent vehicle pollution standards almost guarantees that the US will fail to meet its commitments under the UN pact, according to experts.

The president has also said he does not intend to honour promises made by the administration of his predecessor, Barack Obama, to give billions of dollars in aid to poor, climate-vulnerable nations.

But whether the US will take the additional step of withdrawing from the Paris pact altogether remains open.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said on Thursday that a decision would be made ahead of the G7 Summit in Italy in late May.

Espinosa did not react directly to Spicer’s statement. But she did note that the US “is, and remains, a party to the landmark Paris Climate Change Agreement”.

The 196 nations that are party to the pact, and its underlying convention, will convene in Bonn, Germany in mid-May for technical talks on the agreement’s implementation.

“We look forward to welcoming and working with (the agreement’s) delegations,” Espinosa said.

Should the US withdraw from the Paris accord, it would be a four-year process.

First Published: Mar 31, 2017 18:53 IST