Trump pullout of Paris Agreement may leave climate finance bleeding

Trump pullout of Paris Agreement may leave climate finance bleeding
Climate change experts fear the US decision to pull out of the Paris Accord may lead to climate fund deficit and increasing emissions worldwide.

They feel the US decision would also delay actions towards both reduction of global emissions as well as adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change.

While announcing the US decision on Thursday, US President Donald Trump said the Paris Accord "disadvantages the US to the exclusive betterment of other countries", and targeted India specifically.

"India makes its participation contingent on receiving billions of dollars in foreign aid," he said.

India, which was lauded during the Marrakech Climate Talks (COP22) last year for its anti-emission initiatives, would not be affected by the US exit, feels Harjeet Singh, Global Lead on Climate Change for ActionAid.

The international climate research organisations at COP22 said that the country was set to "over-achieve" its emission intensity targets.

"However, the overall kitty for the climate finance is going to be smaller. India will have to look forward and manage its finance resources in a manner that it does not affect its targets," Harjeet Singh said.

The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) also criticised Washington's move, saying that without the active and ambitious contribution from the US, any action to combat climate change under the Paris Agreement would be insufficient by a huge margin.

"Even if other countries, including the developing countries, raise their ambition, they would not be able to fill in the void left by the US," said Chandra Bhushan, Deputy Director General, CSE, told IANS.

Suggesting a possible void in the global environment leadership, The Energy and Resource Institute (TERI), however, said that positive trends in the decline of prices of renewable energy and energy efficiency would continue to drive global action to ensure that global temperature rise remained well below two degrees Celsius.

"The absence of its (the US') leadership and financial support in implementing the Agreement could delay actions to both reduce global emissions as well as to adapt to the adverse impacts of the climate change that has already occurred," said Ajay Mathur, TERI Director General.

Technically, the US cannot pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement (which came into force on November 4, 2016) till November 4, 2020, as per the UN rules applied to all the parties.

The Paris Climate Agreement, inked by 195 nations, was signed in 2015 and aims to keep global warming level well below 2 degrees Celsius and aspires to restrict it to 1.5 degrees.

The US may, however, have no obligation towards its commitment of cutting its emissions by 26 to 28 per cent by 2025 (as set in its Nationally Determined Contributions).

The US, as Trump indicated, would also not transfer $2 billion that it still owes of its $3 billion commitment to the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to support the developing countries curb emissions. The $1 billion was paid in two instalments by Barack Obama, of which the last $500 million instalment was paid three days before he left the Oval Office.

Being the largest emitter historically, the US also had the obligation to contribute the largest share of $100 billion per annum climate finance to help the developing nations cut their emissions from 2020 onwards -- one it is expected to turn down.

But the biggest threat of the US pullout lies elsewhere: according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), failure to cut emissions may increase the cost of mitigation to $300 billion by 2030 and up to $500 billion by 2050.

"Trump represents vested interests of the world's dirtiest fossil fuel industries. His actions to undermine progress in the fight against climate change will face huge resistance in the US and around the world," said Harjeet Singh.

He said that if the next US President, in 2020, continued with Trump's decision, it would be an ultimate blunder, as the Paris Agreement was set to come into force from 2020 onwards and that's the year the US could leave the deal completely.

The biggest global polluter, America accounts for 17 per cent of the global emissions -- the biggest chunk after China. With its decision to quit, the US joins Nicaragua and Syria as the only other non-participants to the accord.

"It is a morally-bankrupt decision that Trump will come to regret... We are witnessing a seismic shift in the global order as Europe, China and others lead the way forward," said Jennifer Morgan, Greenpeace International Executive Director.


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