US exit from Paris Accord: Trump's action calls for civil society to unite

President Donald Trump speaks about the US role in the Paris climate change accord on Friday in the White House
No matter what deniers say, climate change is real and not a hoax created by China. Scientific evidence tells us it is the greenhouse gases and depleting forests linked to our ever so carbon-hungry lifestyle which is responsible for the rising temperatures, melting glaciers and unexplained climatic anomalies. 

To make matters worse, the ‘Trumpestuous’ climate that has taken over the world threatens to gamble the future of humanity for the sake of false nationalistic ideals that breed on ignorance and mistrust. 

The climate denier who sits at the helm of the second largest polluter and the most powerful economy has undone years of research, hard work and negotiations in one lethal stroke. True to his word, Donald Trump has built a metaphorical wall around America bringing it down to the ranks of Nicaragua and Syria. 

But wasn’t this the plan right from the beginning? US President Donald Trump had built his campaign on an ambitious agenda, which included building a wall at the Mexico border, banning Muslims from the USA and pulling out of the Paris Agreement, which has been ratified by 180 countries, USA (under Obama administration) being one of the first countries to do so.  

So will the Trump administration be able to pull it off ‘bigly’? Technically it will cost Trump one whole term to pull out of the Paris Agreement. And he still has graciously left room to re-enter the Paris Agreement after ‘renegotiations’. Germany, France and Italy have made it quite clear that a re-entry is not going to be easy. 

A vast spectrum of actors ranging from religious leaders, bankers, youth, ordinary citizens from across the world, scientists, investment groups and CEOs of some of the world’s largest corporations have committed to strong and quick climate action. The vast majority of the world has already resolved and started to act on climate with the renewable energy industry growing exponentially. 

While Trump rants about coal expansion in India and China, the fact remains that both India and China have made efforts to rev up their renewable energy capacity. Solar tariffs in India have plummeted to Rs 2.44 per unit at the latest auction in Rajasthan. 

With the ambitious target of achieving 175 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy by 2022, and the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) stating that India does not need any new coal power plants till 2027 at least, the possibility of a coal-free future is becoming more and more real everyday.

India will have 40 per cent of its power requirements fulfilled by renewable energy by 2030. The CEA in its report has also estimated that India will install 275 GW of renewable energy by 2027, exceeding the Paris targets. Add to this, the fact that India cancelled 13.7 GW of power in the month of May alone, and revoked Coal India’s output target of 1 billion tonnes of coal by 2020, which would have required an investment of Rs 10 lakh crore. 

Coal is a burden that the planet can no longer afford, and the rest of the world has woken up to this fact. 

Ironically, even states within Trump’s America are defiant of the President’s decision. These states together would constitute to be the world’s 5th largest economy, 6th largest emitter and 12th most populous country according to a research by WRI.

Carbon emissions will still reduce under the Trump regime, though less than what was pledged by the erstwhile Obama regime. Emissions from United States emissions will now most likely fall 15 to 19 per cent below 2005 levels by 2025  as compared to the 26 to 28 per cent pledged by Obama.

So who bears the brunt of this ill-informed and irresponsible decision? Countries that have historically exploited resources globally and contributed disproportionately to global warming, may not be hit hard. The ones severely affected are developing world countries and agrarian economies, where livelihoods depend on the climatic cycles forests and the rich sea coasts.

Forty-eight of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) recently called to ‘redouble’ efforts to combat climate change and implement the Paris Agreement at the COP23 Conference to be held in Bonn later this year.

Despite being the third largest greenhouse gas emitter, India, with its agrarian economy is heavily dependent on the monsoon, and is highly vulnerable to climate change. Indians are already suffering from severe weather events including droughts and floods. Climate action is a moral responsibility of all global leaders towards these people.

By clinging to the polluting past, the Trump administration is only shooting itself in the foot.  Transitioning to a clean energy future is a blessing for any economy that wishes to grow ‘hugely’ with the promise of good health, security and jobs. But a ‘traditionalist’ (as he calls himself), Donald Trump is a man who believes in building walls instead of saving lives. 

Yes, we need a big fat dose of global warming Mr Trump, but that is people warming up to one another against the stifling climate of hatred. For the time being all of us will survive without you, while you count your Dollars. 

The author, Ravi Chellam, is the executive director of Greenpeace India

Disclaimer: Views expressed are personal. They do not reflect the view/s of Business Standard.

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