How Donald Trump got everything wrong

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President Donald Trump

Under the Accord, the developed nations, including the US, had agreed that they would contribute to the Green Climate Fund (GCF), an entity under the United Nations Framework on Climate Change.

President Donald Trump’s announcement to walk out of the Paris Climate Accord, was laced with blunt criticism of India, which he said, was “receiving billions and billions and billions of dollars in foreign aid from developed countries.” However, Trump’s claims and barbs against India may be misleading.

Think of it. India can double their coal production. We’re supposed to get rid of ours. Even Europe is allowed to continue construction of coal plants,” Trump said.

However, Trump’s claims and barbs against India may not only be misleading but may also be completely out of context in so far as the Paris Accord, that was ratified on November 4, 2016, is concerned. Under the terms of the Accord, countries have committed to tackle climate change by submitting Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC), which would dictate the “voluntary” actions they would be undertaking, including cutting greenhouse gas emissions and moving towards green energy.

Of the billions of dollars that Trump referred to, India has so far been sanctioned just one project – a National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) project on groundwater recharge and solar micro irrigation in vulnerable tribal areas of Odisha. The total outlay for the project is $166.29 million, of which the Global Climate Fund (GCF) will provide only $34.35 million, while the balance would come from Odisha government and the World Bank.

Developing nations such as India have agreed to submit their action plans on the condition that rich economies, such as the US and EU countries, would provide support in the form of finance, technology transfer and capacity building. This is based on the principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR), which recognises the need for developing countries to have a different set of obligations compared to developed countries, for cutting emissions.

Under the Accord, the developed nations, including the US, had agreed that they would contribute to the Green Climate Fund (GCF), an entity under the United Nations Framework on Climate Change. Thus, the “billions of dollars” Trump referred to is actually an obligation of developed nations.

“The US had pledged $3 billion to the fund (GCF) but only $1 billion has been transferred. With the Green Fund approving climate change projects in developing countries, the loss of the “notional” $2 billion is bound to sting,” said Indrajit Bose, senior research officer, Third World Network, a non-profit working on issues related to climate change and sustainable development. Bose added that the support in finance, technology transfer and capacity building works out to an “estimated $2 trillion-$4 trillion.” “Without it, developing countries will find it onerous to honour their commitments. Thus, the US exit will widen the gap between ambition and implementation of the deal,” he said.

Trump’s comments on coal plants, too, do not match factual position of the Paris Accord. The Paris Accord gives space to developed countries to cut down emissions as per the requirements of their economy on the basis of the INDC’s they have submitted and thus, they have not received special treatment. In fact, it is the US who has benefitted from a ‘weak’ treaty, experts argued. “The world bent backwards to accommodate the interests of the US. The nationally determined contributions themselves are not legally binding,” Bose said.

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