For Pitt’s sake!

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 15 Jun 2017 12:53:44

Environment activists protesting against US decision to quit Paris deal. (Covfefe was a Twitter gaffe by US President Donald Trump.)


By Biraj Dixit

“China will be able to increase these emissions by a staggering number of years, 13. They can do whatever they want for 13 years. Not us. India makes its participation contingent on receiving billions and billions and billions of dollars in foreign aid from developed countries. There are many other examples. But the bottom line is that the Paris Accord is very unfair at the highest level to the United States.”

Though President Donald Trump would never be remembered for his tact or discretion, he could very well do with a little information and insight, for Pittsburgh’s sake if not for Paris. The blunt manner in which he singled out India along with China while declaring the US exit from the Paris Accord was highly unbecoming of a head of a State, especially when his statement was so sparse on facts and lacked in insight and overview.

The Paris Accord brought all signatory nations into “a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects, with enhanced support to assist developing countries to do so.”
Its aim is “to strengthen global response to the threat of climate change by keeping global temperature-rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.”

Earlier in 2013, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report concluded that, “It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.”

As is evident from various conventions and treaties, there seems to be a general agreement world over that global warming of today has had human influence as the dominant cause. The ‘pre-industrial levels’ were desirable but after industrialisation things changed and emissions since then have direct bearing upon our present-day problem. President Trump would do well to remember the rich history of industrialisation of his country as against industrial development of developing countries. Wouldn’t it be a tad unfair to ask poor developing countries to curb their emissions only when their industries are picking up? And that to save the world that has been polluted by developed nations that acquired their riches through a century of burning coal and fossil fuels?

President Trump, in his hurry to make an impact, mistakenly described China and India as biggest polluters. Had he crosschecked, he would have known that it is in fact America and China that are world’s biggest polluters. While per capita carbon emission of China in year 2015 was 7.7 percent; that of USA was 16.1 per cent. As against these, India’s percent was only 1.9. In terms of country, China leads the tally followed immediately by the USA.

India is third. But given the huge population of India and China, the emissions levels of these countries are well-explained. US, on the other hand, needs to do lot more to curb emissions. While accusing India and China on pollution front, the American President should have understood the data well.

While listing benefits to India and China, President Trump forgot to take into consideration that these two nations, too, were signatories to the same accord and were bound to curb their emissions. In fact, their efforts to curb emission are being appreciated everywhere.

The Climate Tracker Agency has commended India’s efforts. In its assessment of India, it remarked;“The continuing rapid growth in renewable energy in India, combined with sustained reductions in coal imports and a slow down in coal development—with coal-fired “ultra-mega power projects” cancelled—is a strong indication that the low carbon transformation of India’s energy supply sector is gathering momentum. With China continuing to reduce its coal and carbon dioxide emissions, the ongoing growth of renewable energy and slowdown of coal  in India is the most important development underway globally today.

However,  India’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement (PA) does not yet reflect these developments. Under current policies, with the targeted 175 GW of renewable power capacity to be reached by 2022, India is already set to overachieve its 2030 NDC emissions intensity target.”

With US walking out of Paris Accord, the fears are that the world target of keeping temperatures below 2 degree would be gravely affected. It is estimated that with its high emission levels the US pumps around 3 billion tonnes of carbon in air every year. If this continues (as it might be the case, given US pull out) by the end of the century, America would add around 0.3 degree Celsius to global warming.
As for India ‘making its participation to Paris Accord contingent to billions and billions of dollars of foreign aid,’ that too is absolutely wrong. Just like what Minister Sushma Sawraj said, India did not sign the accord for money. It does not take money for its commitment to climate.

India is committed to reducing its emission intensity (emissions per unit of GDP) by 2030. It intends to bring those down by 35 percent from what existed in 2005. It is committed to create additional carbon sink of 2.5 billion to 3 billion tonnes by 2030. For this, it had promised to increase its forest cover. The Government-sponsored plantation drives are going on in a big way in India. The aim is not just to reach the agreed targets but surpass those. India has also agreed to get at least 40 percent of its total installed electricity generation capacity from non-fossil fuel sources. This, too, is evident by the push given to renewable energy. (The solar energy parks and cancellation of coal allotments are indicators of it.)

“They can do whatever they want for 13 years. Not us.”

Here too, President proved his ignorance about the Paris Accord. The Paris Accord is very flexible -- and liberal -- giving countries opportunities to set their own targets. The accord has left it to the prudence of signatory-countries how they propose to achieve targets and only calls for time-bound reviews. So If China and India can do whatever they want to, so can America. Except that these countries are not doing whatever they want to, but are trying hard to stick to their targets to curb emissions and make world a safer place for future generations. “Not Us”, is what America has said to these efforts being made by most countries.

Thankfully, not many in America are pleased with the pullout. Many states and corporations have pledged their commitment to the cause of climate and agreed to keep emissions in check. They are well aware that global temperature-rise would not just affect poor, developing nations but America as well.

Rising temperatures are already playing havoc with our fragile eco-system. If something concrete is not done urgently, hotter summers, floods, droughts would become order of the day. With fast melting ice of the polar regions, many coastal cities face threat of being overpowered by sea soon. In America, too, the case would not be different. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts a worst-case scenario, “sea levels will rise as much as three feet in Miami by 2060. By the end of the century, some 934,000 existing Florida properties, worth more than $400 billion, are at risk of being submerged.”

All these fears, if come true, Mr President, the climax would be very, very ‘unfair’ to the world as well as America.