Trump order on climate misguided, will hurt Americans: Green advocates (News Analysis)

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New Delhi, March 29 (IANS) The Trump administration’s executive order that attempts to dismantle the Clean Power Plan, amongst other action on the climate, that forms a part of the 2015 Paris Agreement has drawn worldwide criticism from environmental advocates.

Former US Vice President Al Gore described it as a misguided step away from a sustainable, carbon-free future, while European Climate Foundation Chief Executive Officer Laurence Tubiana said it might earn Trump a few political points but it will hurt a vast majority of Americans.

Sensing that Trump might sign an executive order that would unwind Obama’s climate policies, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Erik Solheim has previously said that “even if the US pulls out of the Paris Agreement, we will bank on India, China and the European Union for the success of the accord”.

Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order rolling back Obama-era rules aimed at tackling global warming.

The order seeks to suspend, rescind or flag for review more than a half-dozen measures in an effort to boost domestic energy production from fossil fuels.

As part of the roll-back, Trump will initiate a review of the Clean Power Plan, which was aimed at restricting greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants, among other things like considering the cost of carbon in all federal decision making.

The regulation, which was the former president’s signature effort to curb carbon emissions, has been the subject of long-running legal challenges by Republican-led states and those who profit from burning oil, coal and gas.

The Clean Power Plan aims to limit average global warming to 2 degrees Celsius by cutting greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels.

Reacting to Trump’s order, Gore, who shared the Nobel Peace Prize with the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change, said: “Today’s executive order, directing the Environmental Protection Agency to begin rolling back environmental protections and policies, including the Clean Power Plan, is a misguided step away from a sustainable, carbon-free future for ourselves and generations to come.”

“It is essential, not only to our planet, but also to our economic future, that the United States continues to serve as a global leader in solving the climate crisis by transitioning to clean energy,” he said in a statement.

Echoing this, Tubiana, the chief French negotiator of the Paris Agreement, said sending the Clean Power Plan back to the drawing board might earn Trump a few political points from a narrow interest group.

“Should this see the light of day, it will hurt the vast majority of Americans as it will propel the economy backwards so that it resembles something from the 19th century,” she said.

Even so, Tubiana was optimistic.

“The good news is that it will take much more than today’s order to stop domestic climate action in the US – indeed, this document is likely to spend years in court.”

“What’s more, there are countless countries ready to step up and deliver on their climate promises and take advantage of Mr Trump’s short-termism to reap the benefits of the transition to the low carbon economy,” she added.

Established in 2008, the European Climate Foundation is a major philanthropic initiative to help the continent foster the development of a low-carbon society.

British charity Christian Aid described Trump’s order as a “maliciously irresponsible” act that will only damage the US’ global standing.

“The proposed executive order by Donald Trump is irresponsible, short-sighted and completely unacceptable,” Christian Aid’s International Climate Lead Mohamed Adow said in a statement.

An optimistic UNEP Head Solheim has said: “I am optimistic of whatever happens in the White House. India, China and European Union and other major players have decided they will move (go ahead). They are long past from the point of return. The idea is now to provide global leadership.

Solheim told IANS in an interview during a visit here on March 9 that the US private sector will also participate in the efforts to climate change.

The private sector also will move whatever happens in the White House. Companies such as Apple, Google and Microsoft will participate. Also, companies like WalMart will do it for customers and for their own benefit,” Solheim maintained.

At the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change talks (COP22) in Marrakech in Morocco last November, 197 nations, including the US, reaffirmed their political commitment to a global climate momentum that they say is “urgent” and “irreversible”.

“We call for the highest political commitment to combat climate change, as a matter of urgent priority,” 197 parties to the UN’s climate convention stated in the Marrakech Action Proclamation, issued on the penultimate day of the talks on November 17.

Our climate is warming at an alarming and unprecedented rate, and we have an urgent duty to respond,” it said.

The parties — 196 nations and the European Union bloc — also called for an increase in the volume, flow and access to finance for climate projects, alongside improved capacity and technology, including from developed to developing countries.

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at [email protected])

–IANS

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