Saturday, 19 August, 2017

Climate envoys meet in Bonn, but all eyes on Washington

Carol Daniels | 09 May, 2017, 08:24

Washington [U.S.], May 6: The Trump administration has made a decision to send a "much smaller" representative team to the United Nations Climate Change Summit talks to be held in Bonn, Germany, this year.

Meanwhile, representatives of almost 200 countries that are party to the Paris agreement are meeting in Bonn this week to discuss technical aspects of implementing the accord.

While running for president, Trump promised the US would leave the deal, taking aim at the cornerstone of former President Barack Obama's efforts to combat climate change.

Under the Paris deal, negotiated by world leaders in November 2015, nations agreed to nonbinding pledges to cap or reduce greenhouse gases emissions and limit global warming to a maximum of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels. President Trump's daughter Ivanka and the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, are likely to take part, according to reports.

Like Trump, Pruitt has questioned the consensus of climate scientists that man-made carbon emissions are the primary driver of global warming.

"With the exception of those State Department lawyers who abetted in the original unwise decision to sign onto the Paris agreement, the lawyers all seem to agree that the right answer is to exit the agreement swiftly, decisively and cleanly", McKenna said.

- Competitiveness -The US did send a delegation to the talks, though smaller than in previous years.

In the letter, the groups wrote that some officials in the president's administration "are relying on recent statements from former Obama administration officials that the USA can withdraw its [previous commitment under the accord] and submit a new [target] that makes far less ambitious commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions".

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In a letter addressed to all members of the G7, over 200 investors called on the world's strongest economies to make climate action a priority, citing economic concerns over how the consequences of climate change could impact their business.

Mr Trump, as a candidate, threatened to "cancel" the deal, but since taking office has said he is studying it and plans a final decision soon. United States officials say the timeline is being driven by the Group of 7 summit, which Trump will attend late this month in Italy.

"We are focused on ensuring that decisions are not taken at these meetings that would prejudice our future policy, undermine the competitiveness of USA businesses, or hamper our broader objective of advancing U.S. economic growth and prosperity", the state department spokesman said.

Away from this meeting, around 200 global investors managing some $15 trillion in assets argued that the United States should stay the course with Paris.

The 17 veterans argue that climate change poses a critical national security risk and say the US must remain engaged in the global effort to fight it, according to letters sent Monday to Tillerson and Mattis. "We urge all nations to stand by their commitments to the Agreement".

The letter's signatories include major firms like HSBC Global Asset Management, as well as pension funds such as California Public Employees Retirement System and a host of faith-based groups.

Now, China is among a bunch of countries, along with the European Union, that have specifically and officially asked the Trump administration if it will be meeting its short-term 2020 commitments under a United Nations system of ensuring compliance established by the accord, and how.

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