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Trump hesitates over global climate deal

“We’ll have to find a way to bring all countries together”, says UNFCCC head, as Trump aides postpone decision on whether to stay in Paris climate deal

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States, cities and private industry in the US have made strong climate commitments, despite Donald Trump’s threats to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. (Source: Tim Klapdor)

The postponement of the Trump administration meeting on the Paris Agreement has meant the global climate community continues to live in uncertainty about what the US will do.

Trump advisors were due to meet on Tuesday to decide whether he will keep his campaign
promise and withdraw the US from the global climate agreement. Reacting to the postponement, Patricia Espinosa, head of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), told chinadialogue's sister site, indiaclimatedialogue.net, “We are following what is happening in the US, but fulfilling the Paris climate agenda requires global cooperation. We are respectful of internal political processes in different countries, and I cannot comment on that.”

The 2015 deal, signed by nearly 200 countries, commits the US to reducing carbon emissions by between 26% and 28% from 2005 levels by 2025.

“Do remember, it is not only governments who make impact and make the global agenda,” the UNFCCC executive secretary added. “Sub-national and city governments and private industry play big roles. This is happening in the US also. Many states in that country have made strong climate commitments.”

But talks at the UNFCCC are carried out by national governments, and crucial negotiations to make rules under the Paris Agreement are scheduled over the next two years. How would developments in the US affect this? “These are extremely complex negotiations,” Espinosa replied. “We don’t know the US position. We’ll have to find a way to bring all countries together.”

Developments in the US are also likely
to adversely affect climate research in the country; in turn that may affect the next assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Is the UNFCCC planning to do anything about it? “ There are budget cuts in other countries also. We are trying to do something about it,” the UNFCCC chief replied. “We have prepared two scenarios for our budget (of the UNFCCC). One is for zero growth from the current situation. The second is for a slight growth, and that is for activities to promote implementation of the Paris Agreement.”

Espinosa was in New Delhi for talks with India’s environment minister Anil Madhav Dave and officials in the ministry about progress in implementing the Paris Agreement. The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) organised a meeting between her and Indian entrepreneurs, mostly in the areas of renewable energy and water purification. At the meeting, Espinosa was all praise for what India is doing, both at government and industry levels.

In response, industry leaders from India asked what the UNFCCC could do to resurrect the carbon market, since many of them are sitting on emission reduction certificates that they cannot sell due to the collapse of the market. The secretariat could put them in touch with others who had successfully solved the financing problem, Espinosa replied.

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