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Future Of Climate Change Regime Has Been Shackled: USA Climate Policy

With Trump rescinding Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan and existing policies like Clean Power Plan, the impact of his moves will be felt globally, given the high per capita emission of USA, and the reviving of the coal industry by Trump, via his America First Energy Plan.

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A few days before World Environment Day, President Donald Trump’s announcement of USA backing out of the Paris accords is a severe backwards move and an abrogation of its responsibility as the world’s second largest emitter.

However the US Nationally Determined Contributions remains officially in place until it is formally adjusted by the US or until November 2020 - the earliest possible date for the US to legally withdraw from the Paris Agreement.

With Trump rescinding Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan and existing policies like Clean Power Plan, the impact of his moves will be felt globally, given the high per capita emission of USA, and the reviving of the coal industry by Trump, via his America First Energy Plan.

In order for USA to meet its 2025 Paris Agreement commitment—or NDC—of reducing emissions by 26–28 percent below 2005 levels including LULUCF (Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry), the United States would have had to execute both the Clean Power Plan and the Obama Administration’s full Climate Action Plan, which are anyway inadequate for meeting its NDC targets.

Current US policies, including the Clean Power Plan, would only reduce emissions to 10 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. If the Clean Power Plan is stopped, emissions in 2025 are likely to be even higher, at 7 percent below 2005 levels, halting the downward trend of the last decade, which would increase temperatures globally, adding to global warming and climate change.

Without further policies, the US will miss its 2025 NDC commitment by a large margin. Trump’s new policies will also mean that USA will fall considerably behind in the renewable energy market, and miss out on business opportunities in the low-carbon economy, letting China and India assume climate change leadership.

Climate Action Tracker, which has rated USA’s pledge inadequate and has condemned Trump’s decision, we can see that with current policy projections which include Clean Power Plan, USA will not be reducing emissions at all by 2030, and without the Clean Power Plan, emissions will be even higher, undermining global efforts to combat climate change.

Given this trajectory, it is integral that other countries increase their efforts to reduce emissions in order to curb global warming.

As Dr RK Pachauri, former Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said, “Scientifically, climate change is caused by the high concentration levels of carbon dioxide, and not the flow of emissions taking place today. Since the beginning of industrialization and during the period 1850 to 2011 the US has been responsible for 27 percent of total CO2 emissions, the European Union (28 countries) 25 percent and China only 11 percent. The US, therefore, has the overwhelming share of responsibility for human induced climate change, a fact which President Trump has clearly ignored. Unfortunately, much of the developed country and the US media also ignore this fact, while only highlighting China as being the largest emitter of CO2 currently.”

Thus it is perplexing to say the least that President Trump deems global warming as a “Chinese hoax”.

Therefore looking at the current policy scenario of the US, achieving the NDC targets are impossible, and with Trump rescinding Obama’s Climate Action Plan and Clean Power Plan, USA is further going to deplete natural resources, intensify emissions and tread on a dangerous path of increasing climate change impact.

“The future of the climate change regime has been shackled with this announcement. We are already on the path to a dangerous temperature rise of even up to 3 degrees Centigrade. The only foreseeable future course would be for the remaining countries to come together to modify the Paris Agreement to make it effective,” said Chandra Bhushan, deputy director of Centre of Science and Environment.


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