One of the very real consequences of a President Donald Trump will soon be felt in the upcoming winter session of our Parliament when the government introduces ‘The Paris Agreement’ on climate change for ratification.
The Paris Agreement is a global climate agreement to restrict increase in global temperature well below 2 degree centigrade, increase the ability to adapt to adverse affects of climate change and provide funds for low green house gas development.
Bhutan, though being a small country, was one of the Paris Agreement stars for its strong pledge to remain carbon neutral or basically not produce more carbon then it can absorb.
Bhutan, by endorsing the Paris Agreement in Parliament will be main-streaming it into its major policies and programs, like its five year plans to ensure less emissions and have green development.
We will also ensure that our umbrella Economic Development Policy will be in line with the Paris Agreement and in doing so restrict polluting industries and emissions.
Given our vulnerability to climate change, from drying water sources to more extreme weather events and other effects, all of the above makes sense for Bhutan.
The Paris Agreement also provides for funding for countries like Bhutan that have to carry out mitigation and adaptation plans.
However, the entire Paris Agreement targets are now in jeopardy with the election of Donald Trump who promised to ‘cancel’ the Paris Agreement agreed to by 190 countries in December 2015. Donald Trump and the Republican Party officially do not believe that human activities are significant enough to cause climate change. Trump has called climate change a ‘hoax created by the Chinese’ in the past.
America under President Obama was the powerhouse engine which pushed strongly for the agreement and also promised up to USD 100 bn annually in adaptation and mitigation funds from rich countries for developing countries by 2020.
USA is also the second largest global polluter after China, and though it cannot stop other countries from following the Paris Agreement its lack of support under Trump for the Agreement would mean the world will not be able to meet its climate change targets.
It would also send a very negative signal to other big countries whose leaders may also be under political pressure to not follow or dilute their commitments to the Paris Agreement.
Though the USA cannot pull out directly from the agreement right now, Trump simply has to do nothing about Obama’s plan to go for cleaner energy in the USA. Trump can also nominate a fossil fuel industry friendly Supreme Court judge to further tip this balance.
Though Trump has not said anything about climate change after his election, his appointment of a climate change unfriendly person in a key environmental advisor’s post should be another cause for deep worry.
By Tenzing Lamsang
The writer is the Editor of the paper.