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Free Current Commentary - US withdrawal from the COP21 Paris Climate Change Agreement, and its possible implications

Posted on 15. March, 2018.

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The global media have reacted with a combination of disappointment and dumbfoundedness, in the wake of the decision by the USA to abrogate its curbing of carbon emissions, as set forth in the Paris Agreement, at the COP21 United Nations Climate Change Conference in December 2015. 

Thus, the USA joins a rather exclusive club, consisting of Syria (whose energies and considerations have been more pressingly occupied by the civil war which has raged there for the past six years) and Nicaragua, a nation so successful in providing its energy from low-carbon sources that it does not need to sign up for any further amelioration of its emissions, but rather sets a pristine example to much of the rest of the world. China, now at overcapacity against demand for coal-fired power production, has emphasised to the USA that fighting climate change is a global responsibility, and around 40 other independent nations, along with the United Nations, the European Union and the African Union, have expressed their concern, disappointment or outrage, and reaffirmed their own commitments to abide by the treaty. Even major oil companies such as ExxonMobil and Chevron, are against the US decision, and have vowed to hold to the agreement, irrespective of it. It is indeed true that the agreement is not legally binding, but more a citizens’ charter of individual nations, who will receive no further retribution than to be named and shamed should they ultimately fail to comply, as the USA may profoundly demonstrate.

Read the full article in Science Progress, Volume 100, Number 4, November 2017, pp. 411-419.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3184/003685017X15063357842600

Author: Christopher J. Rhodes
Fresh-lands Environmental Actions, 88 Star Road, Caversham, Berkshire RG4 5BE, UK
E-mail: cjrhodes@fresh-lands.com

Keywords: Paris Agreement, climate change, COP21, USA, Trump, China, greenhouse gas emissions, carbon, CO2, Drawdown

Image: A graphic displaying the interconnectivity between climate change, adaptability, vulnerability, and resilience; for climate resilience. Credit: Quokka-roo, https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/ad/Climate_Resilience_Model.PNG