06 Jun 5 Ways the Climate Change Agenda got a Strategy Reboot
While the world recognizes June 5th as #WorldEnvironmentDay, the impact of President Trump’s June 1st 2017 announcement of the withdrawal of the US (United States) from the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement is being debated from amongst world leaders to the man in the street. This Accord to address greenhouse gas emissions, mitigation, adaptation and finance, has been signed by 195 UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) members and ratified by 148 to date.
President Trump rationalized that by exiting the Agreement and effectively removing the US contribution to the Green Climate Fund, he would be rescuing US industries and jobs. He further argued that the Agreement imposed “…draconian financial and economic burdens” and was unfair and disadvantageous to “…the United States, its businesses, its workers, its people, its taxpayers”. Contrary to this argument, his critics highlight that the Agreement is non-binding and does not require a particular level of emissions cuts for signatories. Rather it empowers each country to set its own goal for levels of emissions reductions and the only legal obligation is that carbon emissions must be reported.
By his decision, President Trump has disappointed the UN (United Nations) and angered most of the world’s leaders. Yet in a twist that he may not have anticipated, the decision has served to further consolidate and strengthen the resolve to maintain and achieve the objectives of the Accord. In his reply to the US’ withdrawal, former President Obama remained optimistic saying “…I’m confident that our states, cities, and businesses will step up and do even more to lead the way, and help protect for future generations the one planet we’ve got”. Similarly, but in a more determined outlook, President Macron of France has called on US scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs to relocate and join France in developing “concrete solutions for our climate, our environment”.
So how does this one decision by the US to leave the Paris Agreement, reboot the strategy to achieve the objectives of the Accord?
- Emergence of new Climate Champions
US City Mayors, more formally the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda, in defiance to President’s Trump’s stand have committed to follow through on the goals of the Agreement and have developed a plan aligned to the Agreement to increase investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency… Steve Adler, Mayor of Austin Texas in response to the decision said his city “won’t stop fighting climate change”.
- Reframed the conversation to an Action and Implementation Imperative
Major business leaders and countries including Australia, Canada, China, India, Japan and others have reaffirmed their commitment to Paris Accord. In a joint statement, France Germany and Italy said they will “step up efforts” to support the most vulnerable nations. Equally, General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt said, “Industry must now lead and not depend on government”.
- Increased the allocation of resources
Businesses have reaffirmed their commitment to integrating and deploying renewable energy across their value chain and reducing greenhouse gas emissions reductions. Reacting to the decision in a recent meeting with President Macron of France, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi vowed to go “above and beyond” the 2015 Paris accord on combating climate change.
- Widened the pool of Climate Financing
Philanthropists and everyday folks are contributing financially to the efforts of the Agreement. In committing $15 million of his own funds to the operations of the UNFCCC, Michael Bloomberg, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change said, “we are forging ahead”.
- Expanded the number of Climate Action Collaborations
The Governors of New York, California and Washington formed the United States Climate Alliance to convene US states committed to upholding the Paris climate agreement. In the same spirit, China and the EU joined forces on a new Climate Alliance to “lead the energy transition, toward a low-carbon economy”.
Despite support for the decision by some US manufactures and coal companies, President Trump’s effort to reassert the US sovereignty, retain jobs and save industries by pulling out of the Paris Agreement has given the climate cause renewed attention, more publicity and galvanized voices and resources in support of Agreement. In three (3) years time when this decision becomes effective, whether or not the US is officially committed, the Paris Climate Agreement would have seen the world coming together to arrest the impact of Climate Change.