The menacing shadow of Donald Trump is looming over the meeting of heads of state and government being held today in Marrakech for Cop2, within the UN climate conference that started its second week (and will end Nov. 18th).
Next to the king of Morocco and the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, there are about thirty African presidents (who also participate in the Africa Action Summit, which should allow Morocco to pave the way for its return to the African Union) and many heads of state of the Pacific countries, in addition to a few Western leaders: François Hollande, who wants to ensure the transition with Cop21 Paris where the historic climate agreement was signed on the last year, Mariano Rajoy or the Portuguese prime Minister, while other European countries send senior representatives instead of their leaders. Until yesterday, it was not even clear whether the U.S. will be represented by the Secretary of State John Kerry.
The goal of Cop22 is to clarify the application of conditions on the Paris Agreement, which came into force on Nov. 4th ahead of schedule, as it has been now ratified by 97 countries representing 69% of global emissions of Co2. But Trump’s positions threaten to blow up everything.
According to Trump, global warming is “a hoax, a concept invented by China to weaken the US manufacturing industry.” Trump’s agenda will include the re-opening of coal mines, the revival of shale gas and the cancellation of the regulations issued by the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which could indeed even disappear.
The appointments for the transition period create worry. Up to Jan. 20th, Miron Ebell will deal with the EPA’s fate. Ebell worked at Philip Morris and has collaborated with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, one of the centers dedicated to spread the thesis of skepticism on global warming.
Trump has already threatened to order the U.S. to abandon the Paris agreement, which commits the country to a 28% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 (compared to 2005 levels).
But if the US, the second world generator of Co2, drops out of the agreement, what will the others do? Particularly China, the largest generator, which signed under the pressures of Obama?
According to Laurent Fabius, who last year was foreign minister and presided over the Cop21 conference and the signing of the agreement, dropping out of the Paris agreement is not so easy: according to article 28, there is a mandatory three years adhesion before announcing the abandonment, which shall become operational only after another year. So the soonest the U.S. could abandon it would be 2020, the year of the next U.S. presidential election.
But the jurists found major flaws in the drafting of the Agreement, which is “voluntary” and does not provide for any penalties for those who transgress: Trump could get out the U.S. out of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change right away, so washing his hands and in fact burying the Paris Agreement.
The UN hides its fears. The head of the climate team, Patricia Espinosa, yesterday tersely said that the organization is “in a hurry to cooperate with the Trump administration and to advance the climate agenda for the benefit of the peoples of the world.”
Now there is evidence that the action is effective: yesterday, a report of the scientific consortium Global Carbon Project revealed that in 2015, the Co2 emissions caused by human activity remained stable, and this should be confirmed in 2016 (but it remains the hottest year in history).
This stability is not the rest enough to meet the climate goal of not exceeding 2°.
If the U.S. leaves, it would also threaten the funding that the poorest countries are waiting for to be able to cope with the consequences of global warming and to adapt to new climatic conditions.
According to the World Bank, it is urgent to invest in the fight against global warming, even from an economic point of view: natural disasters caused by climate disorder (floods, storms, refugees, etc.) cost up to 520 billion dollars a year, affecting mostly the poorest.
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