Donald Trump’s scorched-earth approach to environmental protections has shocked current and former government officials overseas who are waiting nervously to see whether the US will destabilize the Paris climate agreement by pulling out of the deal.
The Guardian has spoken to a number of officials from key countries before Trump makes a decision on the Paris agreement this month. Trump’s announcement might come as early as this week.
“Trump’s actions on the climate are worrying,” said Izabella Teixeira, the former Brazilian environment minister. “Although it is still too early to be sure what his strategy is for the US, the signs so far of backsliding are a concern to anyone who was involved in the long process that lead up to the Paris agreement,” said the veteran negotiator, who was credited with a key role in securing the international deal in 2015.
“We certainly could not have imagined this political picture when we signed the agreement in Paris,” said Teixeira. “It is a concern because we saw a similar situation when George W Bush came to power and backed away from the Kyoto protocol”.
The US president has started peeling away many of the pollution rules imposed by Barack Obama’s administration, such as the signature Clean Power Plan, new vehicle emissions standards, clean water regulations, and curbs on toxic discharge from power plants.
Keystone XL and Dakota Access, two major and controversial oil pipelines, have been approved. Last week, the president ordered reviews of protected areas on land and water with the goal of opening them up to further oil and gas drilling. Trump said he was “unleashing American energy and clearing the way for thousands and thousands of high-paying American energy jobs.”
The administration is now mulling whether the US should stay in the Paris climate agreement, a landmark deal struck by nearly 200 nations to lower greenhouse gas emissions that was ratified last year. Trump has previously promised to “cancel” the deal, but his advisers are reportedly split over whether quitting the compact would be worth the resulting diplomatic fallout.
Without the US – which is responsible for almost a fifth of all emissions on the planet – Méndez told the Guardian it would be extremely difficult to reach the goal of keeping temperature rises below 1.5C. It would also set a bad example. “If an important country like the US, which has the second biggest emissions after China, doesn’t abide by the Paris agreement, then the Paris agreement is broken. It will make it harder for other countries to maintain their ambitions,” he said.
Mendez said it was “terrifying” that Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the EPA, has denied that carbon dioxide was a primary driver of global warming. Pruitt’s denial contradicts the EPA’s own scientists, although the future visibility of such evidence is in question as the agency is currently “updating language” on climate change and regulations on its website.
Source/More: The Guardian