Thursday, 22 June 2017

The Paris Agreement on Climate Change and United States’ decision

In 2015, leaders of 197 countries met in the French capital of Paris to deliberate on how to minimize the harmful effects of greenhouse gas emissions on the environment. Greenhouse gas emissions emanating from manufacturing and other related activities are having debilitating effects on the global environment. The earth's human habitation quality is strongly being undermined and gradually rendering biological diversity of many species inhabitable. Realising the devastating effect of global warming on current and future generations, leaders at the Paris meeting drafted an agreement to guide the industrial activities of member countries. The collective consensus culminated in what is now known as the Paris Agreement. It was precisely touted as historic because it provided the platform to mobilise global effort at addressing the threat of climate change.

On 5th October, last year, the threshold of parties required to enforce the Paris Agreement was obtained. That is 147 out of 197 countries have already ratified the agreement. The Paris Agreement which came into force on 4th November, last year, seeks among other things, to maintain global temperature rise in the 21st century below 2 Degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, adapt measures that would lead to further decrease in the global temperature level to 1.5 Degrees Celsius, and to provide the requisite assistance to enhance member countries’ ability to effectively combat the negative impact of climate change. It is worth-emphasising the resolve of advanced economies to contribute financially to enhance capacity building and to introduce a new technology framework to support the initiatives of poorer and developing countries to tackle the issue of climate change.

Under the Paris Agreement, each country is expected to develop nationally determined contributions to support the campaign against global warming. There is no doubt that one of the major culprits of high-carbon emissions in the world is the United States of America. To this end, any effort aimed at minimising the adverse effect of climate change would require active participation of the United States.

At a G8 summit at Taormina in Italy the United States resolved to review the Paris Agreement in relation to the country’s existing policy on climate change. But barely a week after the summit, US President Donald Trump back tracked on his earlier decision. President Donald Trump’s pronouncement was greeted with a barrage of criticisms. Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel described President Trump’s move as regrettable, and expressed the belief that all leaders have an obligation to protect the planet. Similarly, the British Prime Minister, Theresa May is of the firm belief the Paris Agreement would help keep energy clean, affordable and secure for businesses and individuals.

In view of this, the Indian government is strongly committed to taking a leadership role in saving the planet from the harmful effect of climate change. It welcomes news that Italy, France and Germany have signed a joint declaration opposing President Trump’s decision. The declaration was supported by the Presidents of the European Commission and European Council. In order to give the Paris Agreement a major boost, the European Union (EU) and China have committed to raising $100 billion a year by 2020 to help poorer countries reduce high-carbon emissions. The European Commissioner for Climate Action Miguel Arias Canete has also indicated that none of the 29 Articles contained in the Paris Agreement is negotiable. It is believed that the effect of the United States pullout on climate change by the end of the century would be about 0.3 Degrees Celsius. The realisation of the minimal effect of the United States pullout would hinge on effective implementation of measures and strategies contained in the Paris Agreement.

Member countries must strive to redeem their pledges and work in close collaboration with the developing countries to make the global fight against climate change successful.

BY: DR. Ebenezer M. Ashley (PhD). Lead Consultant/CEO Eben Consultancy Fellow Chartered Economist & Council Member, ICEG.

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