Last week President Donald Trump announced that the United States would pull out of the Paris Climate Agreements, negotiated by 195 Countries in 2015 to reduce global warming. Three experts from Stanford University in California, members of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or with environmental and International Law competences, shared their reading of the US Administration decision with SIR.
Greater risks for all. “I am deeply saddened”, remarked Chris Field, Professor of Environmental Sciences at Stanford. “It’s really frustrating to see that my Government allows young and old citizens, cities and rural areas, the poor and the rich, businesses and the natural environment alike, to be exposed to increased risks linked to climate change. It’s equally tragic to see that the Administration is withdrawing from the optimal course that would turn 21st century United States into a pilot-country under the moral, economic and technological profile.”
Decreased negotiating powers. For the United States (and its businesses) backing out of the agreement also entails having less power of influence on the scope and forms of climate change enshrined in the Paris climate deal. For Katharine Mach, Senior Research Scientist at Stanford University, this decision shows “poor economic vision.” While “sea level will keep on rising”, she said, opportunities offered by green energy “will irreversibly continue to grow.” She added:
“If the US leaves the negotiating table we will all be moving backwards instead of forward.”
A temporary setback. Michael Wara, Professor of Environmental Law at Stanford, recognized that President Trump’s decision in is line with his electoral promises summed-up in the slogan “America first”, but at the same time it undermines Washington’s credibility. “Withdrawing from the agreement”, Ware said, “goes against the very interests of the United States. It damages enterprises and their workers, and it’s a hard blow to planet Earth.” Yet, all considered, Ware is optimistic. “Quitting the Paris climate deal would not put an end to the progress made so far by the United States. In fact, there are signs which show that increased efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are being made by other countries, as well as by States and Communities inside the US based on past experience which showed the huge job and economic opportunities linked to clean energy.” “I am confident that these cooperative efforts can still protect us from the most catastrophic consequences of climate change.”
California is the leading State. California is the most determined State in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. “It’ the leading State at national and international level in terms of climate and clean energy”, Wara pointed out. “I hope that California will continue being a role model in the creation of a prosperous, sustainable society, preventing risks for the next generations. The first signs are positive. The Golden State appears to have reacted to the decision of the US Administration by strengthening its leadership, marked by state-of-the-art technological innovations and environmental policies.”
The need to look ahead …. Would the Climate deal continue being effective if its major signatory, responsible for some 25% of all carbon emissions, leaved and slammed the door behind him?
“The Paris deal is the triumph of global cooperation”,
said Mach, the Research Scientist. “The agreement provides a starting point and a serious framework to address environmental challenges. This new approach was substantially defined by the United States. Restricting our role in the deal is detrimental to the safety, welfare and economic prosperity of Americans, and it introduces considerable uncertainties in the international climate scenario “. “Instead of clinging to the past and treating the atmosphere as a landfill,” Mach concluded, “for the twenty-first century we need to develop a dynamic and clean energy system.”