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kerry

                                                                 Photo: Cemently(Flickr) Licence: CC BY-ND 2.0                                                                       US State Secretary John Keery at Cop22 - Things might change drastically when Trump takes over 

 

Between the 7th and 18th of November this year, Marrakech hosted the 22nd Conference of Parties (COP22) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). COP22 started just days after the Paris Agreement had officially entered into force. What does this mean? This means that the commitments spelled out in the Paris Agreement are now official international law, and all countries that have ratified the treaty must take domestic action, to collectively limit global warming to 2C, by 2030. This is the warming threshold that is supposed to save us from the most devastating impacts of climate change. The political mobilisation that took place over the past year to accelerate action around climate change has exceeded everybody’s ambitious expectations. But before we could sit back and applaud these efforts, a powerful tornado emerged to disrupt the path to global climate action that has been so tediously paved by the collective efforts of the international environmental community. 

The trumpado

eu

Photo: EP (Flickr) Licence: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

 

With the catastrophic outcomes of the US elections that boggled the world on the night of November 9th, people across the world are freaking out for many different reasons. His inherent immorality, lack of basic humanity and common sense has the world fearing the unpredictability of an inexperienced hate-fuelled leader. Environmentalists around the world are amongst the most disillusioned and distressed to Trumps’ earth-destroying promises. While Trump is already melting glaciers with his words before even entering into office, and with his recent appointment of a man who has dedicated his career to representing the interests of the fossil fuel industry to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – things are not looking good.

All throughout his campaign Trump vowed to pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement. The world was relieved for just a few seconds by the guidelines of the treaty which state that once the Paris Agreement has entered into force, the withdrawal period would take up to four years in the case of any nation wanting to exit. This would be Trump’s entire first presidential term. However, his commitment to global annihilation is stronger than we might have anticipated, as he has now vowed to pull out of the entire UNFCCC as a quicker way of abandoning all climate change mitigation efforts. The USA alone is responsible for 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), making it one of the major players in determining the future of our climate. Long story short, if Trump decides to follow through with these promises, we can count on the climate getting a lot hotter, and international climate action a lot more complicated.

cop22  

Trump’s earth shaking victory came 2 days after the beginning of the two-week long climate change negotiations in Marrakech; COP22. Amongst the great disillusion this brought to COP22, the news also stirred a wave of positivity and unity at the negotiations. This new reality only reaffirmed and strengthened the importance of working together to battle the global threat that is climate change, and now too, the resistance of a Trump administration.

The focus of COP22 was heavily directed at action and the implementation of the Paris Agreement. This year’s climate negotiations were expected to establish rules for how to lower, measure, and report GHG emissions. Countries were expected to develop concrete plans for implementation, and for scaling up support for loss and damage due to climate change. Yet possibly the most important topic discussed in Marrakesh was the need for higher ambition of national GHG reduction targets.

It is important to note that the pledges submitted by countries in the run up to the Paris Agreement do not add up to meet the target of the treaty, which is to limit global warming below 2⁰ C. The Paris Agreement acknowledges this existing gap, and sets out a process to encourage countries to progressively increase ambition over time in order to eventually meet this long-term objective. This urgency for countries to raise ambition was one of the most important topics of COP22, and led to the decision to carry out a “global stock take” every five years to assess nations’ progress in implementing their climate commitments. The first review will take place in 2018.

Trump’s earth shaking victory came 2 days after the beginning of the two-week long climate change negotiations in Marrakech; COP22. Amongst the great disillusion this brought to COP22, the news also stirred a wave of positivity and unity at the negotiations. This new reality only reaffirmed and strengthened the importance of working together to battle the global threat that is climate change, and now too, the resistance of a Trump administration.

THE EUROPEAN UNION, A CLIMATE LEADER?

During COP22, the EU emphasised its efforts and achievements in boosting the European renewable energy market. During the final EU press conference at COP22, Climate and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete outlined the EU’s ambition to be "number one" in renewable energy. He affirmed that the EU will source half of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030, and will achieve a decarbonized economy by 2050.

The EU has been claiming to play a strong leadership role throughout international climate negotiations over the years, yet a close look at the actions being taken at home suggest otherwise. On November 30th, the European Commission released its proposal titled "Clean Energy for All Europeans." The proposals in this legislative package cover a diversity of issues, from energy efficiency, renewable energy, the design of the electricity market, security of electricity supply, governance rules for the Energy Union and more. It is a monster package which has received huge criticisms from environmental groups across Europe for not being ambitious enough to meet the EU’s own climate targets, and in turn, not complying with the Paris Agreement. 

RexTillerson

                                       Illustration: Wiliam Munoz  (Flickr) Licence: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0                                                                 Donald Trump has announced Exxon-Mobil Corp's Rex Tillerson as his choice for Secretary of State

 

Considering that the EU just came back from COP22 where it was praising its leadership role in guiding the global transition to a renewable future, this package is a failure to that commitment. Also, the next review of nations’ progress in implementing the Paris Agreement will take place in 2018, and this package in its current state is a wasted opportunity to pave the legislative road for accelerating progress in reaching EU climate targets.

As a major global leader, the European Union must stand up to the challenges that loom ahead and set the pace for the world to abandon dirty energy. If it really wants to meet the target of decarbonizing by mid-century, significantly improving the energy package must be the first step.

The "Clean Energy for All Europeans" legislative proposal is only a proposal of the European Commission, however the legislative process is expected to go on for the next two years. This means there is still hope and time for improving, yet we need political will from the European Parliament and the European Council to raise the EU’s energy and climate targets, in order to become a true climate leader.

As if climate change didn’t already pose a catastrophic threat to humanity, Donald Trump’s election only adds another hoop of fire to this deadly fight we are all in together. With Donald Trump stomping on global plans for a smooth transition to a renewable economy, expectations are high for our European leaders to rise up and guide this transition.

Lets hope they wont bring us more disappointment. 2016 gave us enough of that.

 

ana

 About the Author

Ana-Christina Gaeta is from Mexico but has lived all over the place. She studied Anthropology at UBC in Vancouver and received her masters in Geopolitics of Climate Change from the University of Amsterdam. She is currently living in Brussels, working for an environmental ngo that lobbies for a more sustainable and less toxic health sector for Europe. 

Teaser Michael Vadon (Flickr); Licence: C.C 2.0 

 

 

 

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