June 2017 was a mild day when Donald Trump announced from the podium in the Rose Garden of the White House that the United States had withdrawn from the Paris Climate Agreement, which is the only comprehensive global agreement to deal with the spiral crisis.
Todd Stern was the chief negotiator of the United States when the deal was concluded in Paris in 2015, and he had to watch the speech in person.
Stern said: “I found it disgusting and vicious from beginning to end.” “I’m angry…because we have this very important thing here, and this is someone who doesn’t understand what he is talking about. A joke. This is a fraud.”
The terms of the agreement mean that no country can leave before November this year. Therefore, due to the weird timing, the United States will officially withdraw from the Paris agreement on November 4, which is 100 days from now, which is the 2020 presidential election. one day.
The completion of Stern’s suffering, and any realistic hopes of avoiding catastrophic climate change, depend largely on the outcome of the election. The election will put Trump against former Vice President Joe Biden, who has vowed to rejoin the climate agreement.
The validity of the “Paris Agreement” set off a wave of optimism in 2015, witnessing the hottest five years in the history of the earth. From California to Australia, unprecedented fires destroyed cities and towns, setting a heat wave that bled Europe and India. The temperature briefly exceeded 100F (38C) at the North Pole.
Scientists warn that because global heating levels have contributed to these effects, and by the end of this century, global heating levels will increase by three times, or even worse, without drastic remedial measures, these effects may be just appetizers. The faltering global efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions and avoid further disasters largely depends on whether the United States decides to rejoin the fight.
Stern said: “In the White House, the choice of Biden or Trump is huge, not only for the United States, but for the world as a whole, to deal with climate change.” “If Biden wins, then November 4 will be short-lived. The night is like a nightmare over. If Trump wins, he will reach an agreement. The United States will become a non-participant, and the goals of Paris will become very, very, very difficult. In the long run, they are of course unrealistic. ”
Nearly 200 countries/regions named after the Paris Agreement promised to respond to climate emergencies and limit the global average temperature rise to “below 2°C” to prevent large-scale industrialization from starting to emit large amounts of warming gas from the atmosphere into the atmosphere in. Cars, trucks, power plants and farms. A higher ideal goal was also proposed, which is to stop the temperature at a temperature of 1.5C, even though only five years have passed, the planet has dangerously creeped close to this temperature.
The Paris Agreement brought major, growing emitters such as China and India into the ranks in seeking to switch to cleaner energy, partly at the urging of Barack Obama, who claimed that the agreement showed The United States is now “a global leader.” Address climate change. ”
Trump was once called a climate science “scam”, but he never had a good impression of the deal. He believes that this is an international effort aimed at harming the United States while at the same time overly allowing China. Trump stated in his Rose Garden speech that he was elected “a citizen of Pittsburgh, not a citizen of Paris.” In fact, each country is free to choose its own emission reductions without taking any mandatory measures. Sue Biniaz, a former U.S. State Department attorney who drafted part of the Paris deal, said: “Paris is like a glass container in which you can pour water or wine.” “The problem is not the Paris design. , But because there is not enough political will to do it.”
The U.S. government actually gave up any concerns about the climate crisis some time ago. The Trump administration has so far withdrawn more than 100 environmental protection measures, including the Obama-era plan to curb emissions from coal-fired power plants, limiting emissions of pollutants from automobiles and Energy efficiency standards for trucks and even light bulbs. In an often chaotic presidency, Trump’s position on climate change is unusually consistent-American fossil fuel production must be strengthened, and restrictive climate regulations must be lifted.
Trump, unaffected by Americans’ growing concerns about the climate crisis, is bringing the same message into the election. The president said this month: “Biden hopes to re-adjust the energy economy on a large scale and rejoin the Paris climate agreement. This will completely kill our energy. You will have to close 25% of your business and terminate oil and gas development.” When he announced the rollback again, he cited evidence, this time for an environmental assessment of pipelines, highways and other infrastructure.
Despite this, US emissions continue to fall, largely due to the decline of the coal industry that Trump is trying to support. However, the international consequences have already shown this-in the absence of any active uproar in the United States, global emissions are still stubbornly high, and most countries are falling behind their own promised actions.
According to the report of “Climate Action Tracker”, only Morocco is acting in accordance with the goals of the Paris Agreement. Even with the current promise, the global temperature will rise by more than 3°C by the end of this century. Paris is just the beginning-countries should continue to increase their ambitions until they avoid more extreme climate change damage, such as terrible floods, heat waves, crop failures and loss of coral reefs.
Viñaz said: “Other countries have less political will to take action to some extent because the United States has not worked hard for it.” “In Trump’s first four years, saying it may be a distortion. Short-term deviation is easy, but if it is eight years, it will be difficult to link the alliance of countries that care about this issue.”
According to a published analysis, another four years in which the Trump administration is not interested in the climate crisis may delay global emissions reductions by ten years, making the chance of achieving the Paris targets almost impossible.
Hakon Saelen, an environmental economist at the University of Oslo, who led the study, said that the U.S. withdrawal is a “major blow” to alleviate the climate crisis. He said: “To achieve the 2C goal, the world cannot afford any delay.” “Our model shows that the chance of reaching this goal is already very low, but it is almost zero in another term of Trump.”
However, even if the Biden administration is involved and can somehow get Congress to agree to a 2tn plan to switch the United States to renewable energy, the challenge is still huge. The world has been reducing emissions for a long time, so only unprecedented and thorough reforms to our way of traveling, energy production and diet can we keep human beings within the safe range outlined in Paris.
Zeke Hausfat, Director of Climate and Energy at the Breakthrough Institute, said: “The worse the climate becomes, the goal of [Paris] is roughly at a level of real deterioration.” “We don’t want people to give up hope, and humans will not Extinct at 2C, but this is an unnecessarily high standard. There is still a huge threat, and there are many good reasons to lower the temperature below this level.
Stern said that American voters will naturally be “supersonic” concerned about the coronavirus and economic impact. He said: “But this election must not forget climate change.” “The Covid crisis shows us that countries can do great things in a short time when they believe in the actions they must take. This shows that we need leaders as well. Understand the actions we need to take on climate change, because this is another meteorite we are moving forward.”
This story originally appeared in the “Guardian” and was republished here as part of “Covering the Climate Now”, a global news collaboration aimed at enhancing coverage of climate stories.
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