US sub­mits no­tice to be­gin year-long exit from Paris cli­mate deal

The National - News - - NEWS | WORLD - ARTHUR MacMIL­LAN New York

The United States has for­mally sub­mit­ted no­tice to the United Na­tions that it plans to exit the Paris cli­mate ac­cord, in a de­ci­sion French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron and sci­en­tists said was lam­en­ta­ble.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump went ahead with the pullout de­spite mount­ing ev­i­dence on the ef­fects of cli­mate change, with Septem­ber be­ing the fourth month in a row that near or record-break­ing global tem­per­a­tures were recorded.

US Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo an­nounced that the ad­min­is­tra­tion had started the process to with­draw “be­cause of the un­fair eco­nomic bur­den im­posed on Amer­i­can work­ers, busi­nesses, and tax­pay­ers” by the terms of the agree­ment.

The Paris ac­cord set a goal of lim­it­ing tem­per­a­ture rises to well within two de­grees Cel­sius from pre-in­dus­trial lev­els, a goal sci­en­tists say is vi­tal to check the worst dam­age from global warm­ing that is al­ready in­creas­ing the sever­ity of droughts, floods and storms.

De­fend­ing the de­ci­sion to leave, Mr Pom­peo said the US had re­duced all types of air pol­lu­tants af­fect­ing hu­man health and the en­vi­ron­ment by 74 per cent be­tween 1970 and last year, with green­house gas emis­sions drop­ping 13 per cent be­tween 2005 and 2017.

“We will con­tinue to of­fer a re­al­is­tic and prag­matic model … show­ing in­no­va­tion and open mar­kets lead to greater pros­per­ity, fewer emis­sions and more se­cure sources of en­ergy,” he said of a US en­ergy mix com­pris­ing fos­sil fu­els, re­new­ables and nu­clear power.

A spokesman for UN Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral An­to­nio Guter­res said the US had no­ti­fied of­fi­cials by let­ter that it was pulling out, un­der Ar­ti­cle 28, para­graph 2 of the 2015 ac­cord.

But the with­drawal will take a year, mak­ing the fi­nal exit date Novem­ber 4, 2020 – one day af­ter the next US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. The ac­cord’s rules pre­vented any coun­try from pulling out in the first three years af­ter rat­i­fi­ca­tion in 2016.

Were a Demo­crat to win the US elec­tion next Novem­ber, the de­ci­sion could be re­versed. This would po­ten­tially re­store the con­di­tions ne­go­ti­ated by Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, Mr Trump’s pre­de­ces­sor. Read­mis­sion would take 30 days.

Mon­day’s de­ci­sion makes the US the only na­tion among 188 orig­i­nal sig­na­to­ries to pull out.

Mr Macron sig­nalled that other al­liances on cli­mate would move for­ward re­gard­less.

“We re­gret this and it makes the Franco-Chi­nese part­ner­ship on cli­mate and bio­di­ver­sity even more nec­es­sary,” Mr Macron said as he vis­ited China, the world’s largest emit­ter of green­house gases blamed for cli­mate change.

The US ranks sec­ond for global emis­sions.

The one-year pe­riod for ex­it­ing the ac­cord leaves time for Mr Trump to roll back en­vi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tions as states such as Cal­i­for­nia and New York try to take stronger ac­tion on their own.

The US pres­i­dent has sought to block Cal­i­for­nia from set­ting tighter stan­dards on car emis­sions and moved to let states set their own stan­dards on ex­ist­ing coal-fired power sta­tions.

Robert Me­nen­dez, the top Demo­crat on the Senate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee, said the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion had “once again thumbed its nose at our al­lies, turned a blind eye to the facts and fur­ther politi­cised the world’s great­est en­vi­ron­men­tal chal­lenge”.

A poll by The Wash­ing­ton Post news­pa­per last month found that even in his own party Mr Trump faces grow­ing op­po­si­tion on the is­sue, with 60 per cent of Repub­li­cans agree­ing with the sci­en­tific con­sen­sus that hu­man ac­tiv­ity is caus­ing cli­mate change.

The Euro­pean Union has sought to cut carbon pol­lu­tion in 2030 by 40 per cent com­pared with 1990 lev­els, which is greater than Amer­ica’s pledge, said Prof Rob Jack­son of Stan­ford Univer­sity, who is also chair­man of the Global Carbon Project.

Bri­tain has al­ready ex­ceeded that goal.

“The US agree­ment is not a tax on the Amer­i­can peo­ple. There is no mas­sive wealth trans­fer,” said Cli­mate Ad­vis­ers chief ex­ec­u­tive Nigel Purvis, who was a lead State De­part­ment cli­mate ne­go­tia­tor in the ad­min­is­tra­tions of US pres­i­dents Bill Clin­ton and Ge­orge W Bush.

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