Trump impact: World counts on US’ moral obligation at COP22

Climate change summit November 30

As the way has been cleared for Republican Donald Trump to become the next US President, delegates attending the COP22 here are counting on the “moral obligation” of the new American administration and its commitment to honour the Paris Climate Agreement.

Trump — a climate change sceptic — has threatened to cancel the Paris deal if he cames to power. This would mean the threshold achieved for the Paris Agreement would be jeopardised as America accounts for 17 per cent of the global emissions, the biggest chunk after China.

“Trump will soon be the most powerful person on the earth, but he doesn’t have powers to change the physics of climate change, emission or the global warming. If he will not honor the Paris Climate Agreement then it would have a negative impact on his credibility in the world leadership,” Alden Meyer, Director of Washington’s Union of Concerned Scientists, told IANS on the sidelines of a US Climate Action Network event.

He further said that the US has a moral responsibility and obligation towards the world. Like it or not, Trump has to honour that anyway, he added.

“The US has a moral responsibility to cope with climate change. Evangelists, religious leaders and many members of the Republican Party are concerned. So, Trump can’t simply do as he likes,” Meyers contended.

However, even if Trump opts out of the Paris Climate agreement — which entered into force on November 4 and became a law at Marrakech — it would take at least four years for the process, the expert said.

“For years, the US has been accusing China for the climate change. It would be hypocritical if it pulls out the of the Paris agreement action,” Li Shuo, an observer at COP22 and Policy Advisor of Greenpeace-China, told the media here.

There were four key points to the Paris Agreement that all countries, including the US, China and the UK agreed to.

They are:

A long-term goal of keeping the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

To aim to limit the increase to 1.5°C , since this would significantly reduce risks and the impacts of climate change.

The need for global emissions to peak as soon as possible , recognising that this will take longer for developing countries.

To undertake rapid reductions thereafter in accordance with the best available science.

He further stated that the Climate Change action plans would not be impacted by the US stand and that Beijing would continue its commitment nonetheless.

“The world shouldn’t wait for anyone and it should move on, no matter what. It’s important that countries like India and China remain committed to combat global climate change,” Li told IANS.

Katherine Egland of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAAC) “demanded” that the Paris agreement be honoured.

The experts said Trump has more reasons to “honor” the Paris Climate Agreement, not just because of the US obligation to the world but because of his promises to the American people.

“Trump has promised a lot of jobs in the US through clean energy programmes, which means that the private investment has to continue. The President-elect has to recognise this. If he has to grow, he has to grow with the system,” Meyer said.

Clementive Renevia, from the French Ministry of Environment, also said that Trump becoming President would not have any impact on the Paris Climate Agreement.

“Our minster and COP21 President, Segolene Royal, has already said that Trump’s becoming the US President will not change anything. I feel that we should keep moving on,” Renevia told IANS.

Shigeru Ushio, a senior official at the Japan’s Foreign Minister, told IANS, “I don’t see any dark clouds over Paris Climate Agreement due to Trump becoming the new President, as the US simply can’t avoid this treaty.”

Kushagra Dixit / IANS