US ‘rogue’ state if it ditches cli­mate ac­cord

Lesotho Times - - International -

MAR­RAKESH, Morocco — The United States would be­come “a kind of rogue coun­try” if it pulls out of an in­ter­na­tional agree­ment to com­bat global warm­ing, leav­ing the world more vul­ner­a­ble to droughts and other cli­mate ex­tremes, warned Mary Robinson, a for­mer Ir­ish pres­i­dent and hu­man rights ad­vo­cate.

“It would be a tragedy for the United States and the peo­ple of the United States if the U.S. be­comes a kind of rogue coun­try, the only coun­try in the world that is some­how not go­ing to go ahead with the Paris Agree­ment,” Robinson said in an in­ter­view with the Thomson Reuters Foun­da­tion on Sun­day.

US Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump, a Repub­li­can, has promised to pull the United States out of that global cli­mate ac­cord, which was agreed last year by 193 coun­tries and which came into ef­fect ear­lier this month, just in ad­vance of his elec­tion.

The deal aims to hold cli­mate change to “well be­low” 2 de­grees Cel­sius of warm­ing by mov­ing the world econ­omy away from fos­sil fu­els.

The agree­ment pro­vides for $100 bil­lion a year in in­ter­na­tional fund­ing from 2020 to help poorer coun­tries de­velop cleanly and adapt to the al­ready in­evitable im­pacts of cli­mate change.

Robinson, who now runs a foun­da­tion fo­cused on seek­ing jus­tice for peo­ple hit hard by cli­mate im­pacts de­spite hav­ing contributed lit­tle to the prob­lem, said she was con- fi­dent other coun­tries would con­tinue their back­ing for the ac­cord re­gard­less of any ac­tion taken by the United States.

“I don’t think that the process it­self will be af­fected (if) one coun­try, how­ever big and im­por­tant that coun­try is, de­cides not to go ahead,” she said on the side­lines of U.N. cli­mate talks in Mar­rakesh, due to end on Fri­day.

But a pull­out could mean a “huge dif­fer­ence” to al­ready dif­fi­cult ef­forts to gather enough in­ter­na­tional fi­nance to help poorer coun­tries de­velop their economies with­out in­creas­ing their emis­sions, “which is what they want to do”, she said.

“The moral obli­ga­tion of the United States as a big emit­ter, and a his­tor­i­cally big emit­ter that built its whole econ­omy on fos­sil fu­els that are now dam­ag­ing the world – it’s un­con­scionable the United States would walk away from it,” she said of the threat to with­draw from the Paris deal.

Life with­out wa­ter How­ever, Robinson said she sym­pa­thized with Amer­i­cans who had lost their jobs in pol­lut­ing in­dus­tries such as coal, many of whom sup­ported Trump in his elec­tion cam­paign.

“Clearly they’re hurt­ing at the mo­ment,” she said, call­ing for as­sis­tance to help such work­ers re­train and win new jobs in a clean en­ergy econ­omy.

“But it’s not a fu­ture to go back­ward into coal and have higher emis­sions in the United States,” she warned.

“The im­pact of that will be felt by poor com­mu­ni­ties and poor coun­tries all over the world.”

As a U.N. en­voy for El Nino and cli­mate change, she said she had been in dry re­gions of Hon­duras where women told her they no longer had wa­ter as a re­sult of wors­en­ing drought.

“I saw the pain on the faces of those women. And one of the women said to me, and I’ll never for­get, ‘We have no wa­ter.

“How do you live with­out wa­ter?’ ... I’m hear­ing that all over the world,” she said.

If the United States backs away on adopt­ing clean en­ergy, it also would be hand­ing China the lead­er­ship role in a key new in­dus­try, she said.

“That’s not what so many states, busi­nesses, cities and aca­demic com­mu­ni­ties and lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties want in the United States,” she said.

She urged Amer­i­cans up­set about the pro­posed changes in U.S. pol­icy to make their voices heard.

“Peo­ple in the United States have to get up and make a big noise, and busi­ness in the United States has to make a big noise about this,” she said. — Reuters

UN Spe­cial En­voy Mary Robinson.

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