US elec­tion looms large over UN cli­mate talks

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

UN cli­mate talks opened yes­ter­day against the back­drop of a US elec­tion that could have a ma­jor im­pact on Amer­ica’s role in the global agree­ment to re­duce green­house gas emis­sions. Given Hillary Clin­ton and Don­ald Trump’s di­verg­ing views on cli­mate change and the land­mark emis­sions pact adopted in Paris last year, some coun­tries’ del­e­gates have been un­usu­ally blunt about their pre­ferred out­come.

Brazil­ian En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Sar­ney Filho told re­porters in a con­fer­ence call Thurs­day he be­lieves Amer­i­can so­ci­ety sup­ports cli­mate ac­tion re­gard­less of who be­comes the next pres­i­dent. “How­ever, on a per­sonal note, I hope Trump doesn’t win,” he added. Clin­ton backs the cli­mate poli­cies of Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s gov­ern­ment, in­clud­ing con­tin­ued en­gage­ment in the Paris Agree­ment. Trump, mean­while, has ex­pressed doubts about global warm­ing on so­cial me­dia and said in a speech this year that he would “can­cel” the cli­mate deal if elected.

Those com­ments have raised con­cerns in other coun­tries about whether the US would ig­nore its com­mit­ments un­der the agree­ment - or with­draw from it com­pletely - if Trump were elected. Asked about Trump’s re­marks on the Paris deal, China’s top cli­mate ne­go­tia­tor Xie Zhen­hua said “a wise leader” should con­form to global de­vel­op­ment trends. “If you go against the tide, peo­ple will not agree and the econ­omy and the so­cial de­vel­op­ment of these coun­tries will also be af­fected,” Xie said ear­lier this month.

Trump may dis­man­tle co­op­er­a­tion

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion played a key role in mak­ing the Paris deal come to­gether, par­tic­u­larly by form­ing a part­ner­ship with China that saw the world’s top two pol­luters take the lead in global ef­forts to slash emis­sions of car­bon diox­ide and other green­house gases. Un­der the Paris deal, the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion pledged to re­duce US green­house gas emis­sions by 26-28 per­cent be­low 2005 lev­els by 2025.

But US Repub­li­cans are op­posed to the deal, say­ing it will harm the US econ­omy. Trump has called for stripping reg­u­la­tions to al­low un­fet­tered pro­duc­tion of fos­sil fu­els - a key source of car­bon emis­sions and re­scind­ing the Clean Power Plan, an Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion strat­egy to fight cli­mate change.

In Mar­rakech, del­e­gates will be work­ing on the de­tails of im­ple­ment­ing the Paris deal, such as draft­ing rules for how to mea­sure and re­port emis­sions as well as the fi­nan­cial con­tri­bu­tions meant to help poor coun­tries deal with cli­mate change.

The US un­der the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion de­cided not to join the pre­vi­ous cli­mate deal, the 1997 Ky­oto Pro­to­col, which only reg­u­lated the emis­sions of de­vel­oped na­tions. That was a ma­jor blow to the agree­ment, and af­ter other coun­tries dropped out Ky­oto ended up cov­er­ing only a small por­tion of global emis­sions.

Cli­mate pol­icy of­fi­cials in the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion said they be­lieve this time other coun­tries would go ahead even if the US were to back out, be­cause they see it as in their na­tional in­ter­ests to shift to cleaner en­ergy. “It’s a ques­tion of how quickly we move for­ward, and frankly, who will lead and who will ben­e­fit most from this tran­si­tion to a lower car­bon econ­omy,” said John Mor­ton, the White House’s se­nior di­rec­tor for en­ergy and cli­mate.

Hurry to rat­ify

Although it is pos­si­ble to with­draw from the Paris deal, it would take four years - an en­tire pres­i­den­tial term - to com­plete the process. That’s partly why coun­tries were in such a hurry to rat­ify it be­fore the US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion on Nov 8. US cli­mate en­voy Jonathan Per­sh­ing said he didn’t think a US with­drawal from the cli­mate pact was likely be­cause there are “go­ing to be huge do­mes­tic ad­van­tages to stay­ing in this agree­ment and to do the work that we’ve agreed to do.”

— AFP

LESSBURG, Vir­ginia: US Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Don­ald Trump ad­dresses a cam­paign rally af­ter mid­night early yes­ter­day at Loudoun Fair­grounds.

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