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Thursday
Jun152017

US Withdrawal From The Paris Climate Agreement: What Next? 

In June 2017, President Trump announced his withdrawal of the United States from the COP21 Climate Accord, making it one of only three countries that did not sign the agreement. Naturally, this action was met with frustration by parties, politicians and civilians all over the world...

The 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) was held at the end of 2015 where 195 countries gathered to sign the Climate Change agreement in Paris. This was successfully completed by nearly every country (including Palestine and North Korea!) as they all agreed to cut greenhouse emissions by 2020. Nicaragua and Syria were two exceptions but President Trump cancelled all of Obama’s previous work in ratifying the agreement, making the USA the third non-signatory despite being the second largest polluter in the world.

Flickr | NASA/Kathryn Hansen

Before the 2016 US Election, COP21 in Paris was seen as a revolutionary drive for change after the failed Kyoto Protocol in 1997 because the USA and China had both finally agreed to a non-binding treaty.

However, Trump’s continual climate-change denial and scepticism of international agreements is simply pushing the USA into further isolationism which will only exacerbate climate change in the future. Now the USA has no obligation to move away from carbon-heavy resources and can continue to exploit them because many of President Trump’s advisors are highly influential in the world’s largest coal and oil companies.

This withdrawal also means that the USA will no longer fund the Green Climate Fund which assists developing countries in adapting to the impacts of climate change. Scientists believe that if all 195 countries had committed to the agreement, then a potential 0.8 degree warming could have been avoided.

Flickr | barnimages.com

Countries that will suffer as a result of this future temperature increase are:

  • South Asian and Pacific islands, as millions of people will be displaced due to the coastal flooding caused by Arctic ice melting and rising sea levels.
  • West African countries that could experience drought and therefore food and water insecurity.
  • Various Caribbean islands, as rising sea levels cause more frequent and severe climate-related disasters.

Ecosystems that will suffer as a result of this future temperature increase include:

  • Sea turtles, as rising sea levels and coastal flooding destroy the beaches (their hatching grounds) and the rising temperatures disrupt their food resources.
  • The Great Barrier Reef, as rising sea temperatures causes coral bleaching, killing off parts of the reef and therefore reducing the lifespan of the entire coral reef ecosystem.
  • Polar bears in the Arctic and penguins in Antarctica, due to melting sea ice threatening their food resources and habitats

President Trump’s action to withdraw the USA from the biggest Climate Change Agreement of the millennium is dangerous to communities and wildlife alike. Their absence only makes it more difficult for the other 192 countries to reach individual climate targets. Hence, every other nation must push for green technology and protest against the use of traditional natural resources but ultimately, we can only await Trump's next move…

 

By Anaka Nair - Online Journalism Intern

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