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Saturday, 3 June 2017

Exit America: Trump drops Paris Accord, hurts world and US (The Time of India - 03 June 2017)

President Donald Trump’s announcement that America is pulling out of the Paris Accord on climate change mitigation reneges on past US commitments and sends a negative signal to the world. The 2015 Paris agreement had got more than 190 countries to commit to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and restricting the rise in global average temperature to below 2 degree celsius above pre-industrial levels. The previous US administration had played a major role in facilitating the historical accord by committing to overdue emission cuts. Trump now wants to reverse this under the garb of protecting American jobs. This is myopic strategy, drastically curtailing American soft power and leading to the US ceding its leadership role in the world.
Trump has sought to project the Paris Accord as discriminatory towards the US. He even alleged that it allowed India to double its coal production by 2020 and condition its mitigation efforts on billions of dollars in aid. This is false as coal plants are fast losing their charm in India due to falling prices of renewables such as solar. Plus, India has committed to achieving 40% cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel resources by 2030.
Add to this the fact that according to 2013 data per capita CO2 emission in the US was 16.4 metric tonnes, whereas India’s was just 1.6 metric tonnes. Hence, Trump has ignored the US’s historic responsibility for being the world’s biggest polluter. He can hardly pitch for mitigation equivalence when the industrial starting line was never the same, nor are even current per capita emissions remotely close. Now, as climate change hits poor countries hard, they will only blame America. And an authoritarian power such as China could take its place in the world’s affections, making it tough for the US to conduct its foreign policy.

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