Alastair Marsh believes the USA’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement is a reminder that populous, industrialising countries deserve more attention.
To twist a common saying, there’s no USA in team. The USA has withdrawn from the Paris Agreement – an accord between nearly all the world’s countries to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to limit the rise in global temperature to less than 2°C above pre-industrial levels.
To gauge the impact and appropriate response to this, let’s remind ourselves of the nuts and bolts of the Agreement. Each country has voluntarily pledged to reduce its GHG emissions over the coming years by a chosen amount – this is known in UN parlance as ‘nationally determined contributions’ (NDCs). Countries will report on progress every two years, but as it’s voluntary there’s no penalty if targets are missed. Another part is that developed countries (private sector contributions allowed) are expected to provide resources – for example, to the UN Green Climate Fund – to assist less developed countries in both mitigating and adapting to climate change. The goal is to annually raise and distribute US$100bln by 2020, alongside technological and other assistance.
The White House press release referenced these aspects in its arguments for withdrawal, claiming that the required emission reductions would necessitate cuts in certain industries and cost millions of jobs, that it’s unfair for the USA to contribute to the UN Green Climate Fund with no return and that the globally pledged emissions cuts wouldn’t impact climate change anyway. I believe that although this is big, bad news, there is good reason to be positive if we turn our focus to populous, industrialising countries...
The full article continues in the July issue of Materials World magazine, click here to read on.