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Donald Trump Backs Out Of Paris Agreements: What Does This Imply?

As the highest contributor to climate change, USA backing out of the Paris Agreements is extremely unfair to developing countries like India, given that the cumulative emissions of USA is much higher than that of India.

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Donald Trump, President of USA just backed out of the Paris Agreements, leaving the rest of the world to take it upon their hands to battle climate change.

An article by Dr Navroz Dubash of CPR, states that “the dilemma for India in Climate Change dynamics is not simply about what it should do in the future with respect to climate change, but also whether it is in a fair position to contribute to the global climate contribution, given the past and present. As Dubash elucidates, the problem is in the “deeply flawed narrative that risks repositioning India and other emerging countries in global climate politics.”

As the highest contributor to climate change, USA backing out of the Paris Agreements is extremely unfair to developing countries like India, given that the cumulative emissions of USA is much higher than that of India.

The Paris Agreements were unfair to begin with, and as Dubash says “It does not matter, for example, if citizens of one country (India) consume 1,000 units of electricity a year and of another (the US) consume 13,000 units. Also, it does not matter how much responsibility each country has for causing the problem in the first place. That India accounts for 3 percent of global greenhouse-gas emissions since the industrial revolution, compared with 27 percent for the US, is irrelevant by this logic.”

“Climate change is a global challenge. The US cannot continue to keep the world hostage. Pulling out of the Paris Agreement would mean that with 5 per cent of the world population, the US will continue to jeopardise the remaining 95 per cent. Countries need to hold the US accountable for decisions that have a global impact,” said Sunita Narain, Director General of Centre for Science and Environment.

If we consider cumulative emissions since the Industrial Revolution, India contributes to just 3 percent of it while the other developed, Western nations, including USA account for more than 50 percent of it.

But only if we look at emission rate and look at it as a flow concept, do we realize that India’s emission rate is very high, especially given the increasing population, urbanization, lifestyle changes and so on, and with USA backing out, the pressure on India and developing nations to reduce its emissions increases.

But the impact of citizens of developed nations on the planetary thresholds is still much higher since the Industrial Revolution, which is permanent given the nature of emissions, and India’s per capita emission is much lower than that of USA. Planetary thresholds refer to the nine environmental factors which maintain the ecological balance, the crossing of which will have catastrophic effects, first highlighted by Johan Rockstrom.

As RK Pachauri, former Director of TERI states, “The impact of President Trump’s decision would most likely lead to other countries enhancing their resolve to fully implement the Paris Agreement, as indeed has already been emphasized by the European Union and China. India as the world’s second most populous country will not stay behind. The result of the isolation of the US from this upsurge of efforts towards clean energy and reduced GHG emissions would be to leave US industry at a serious disadvantage.”

Reflecting on USA’s decision, Dr Arunabha Ghosh, CEO of Council on Environment Energy and Water states, “We must acknowledge two realities. The rest of the world will have to continue to act on climate change, regardless of what the United States does. The task will get tougher, of course, but it will also demonstrate that the Paris Agreement was a collective endeavour, not merely contingent on US action or inaction. Secondly, the United States, by becoming an outlier on climate action, will also soon realise the folly of its decision - that it will lose out on investment, jobs and market opportunities in a lower carbon economy.”


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