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Jul 17, 2017 09:08 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Trump pulls out of Paris climate deal: Fact-check on his statements & why US exit won’t hurt India

Trump’s pullout rekindles a contentious debate on whether high-growth emerging economies should cut emissions as much as developing economies, who have long exploited cheap fossil fuel for decades and are still the world’s largest producers.

Sidhartha Shukla @shukla_05sid

In what will come as a surprise to many, President Donald Trump on Thursday announced that the US will exit the Paris climate agreement, jeopardizing the prospects of arguably the most sweeping climate change pact between countries.

The pact, termed the COP21, has been ratified by 147 countries and respective governments have agreed to "pursue efforts" to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 degree Celcius.

Trump, who has often denied the existence of man-made climate change, said that the agreement was not in favour of America or the climate and assured that he will begin negotiations to re-enter another accord.

In his speech, Trump, like many other right-leaning American politicians challenge the fight against climate change, blamed emerging countries like India and China on the rising level of CO2 emission in the world.

The US President said that the COP21 pact let the "world's leading polluters" off the hook, clearly pointing a finger at China and India.

One of the major reasons why Trump considers the Paris accord a bad deal is because of America's contribution to the Green Climate Fund. The fund helps in financing clean projects in developing and poor countries.

But Trump feels that this contribution to the fund will be "costing the United States a vast fortune."

Trump’s pullout rekindles a contentious debate on whether high-growth emerging economies should cut emissions as much as developing economies, who have long exploited cheap fossil fuel for decades and are still the world’s largest producers.

The COP21 agreement requires developed nations to help fast growing countries like India embrace alternative sources of energy, and use them to fulfill their growing energy demand instead of relying on cheap fossil fuel.

In prepared remarks, Trump raised several concerns on structure of the pact and made several arguments against it.

Here is a fact-check on what he said.


Allegations against India and China


"For example, under the agreement, China will be able to increase these emissions by a staggering number of years, 13. They can do whatever they want for 13 years. Not us."

FACT: China has pledged under the Paris accord to halt its growing carbon emissions by 2030, 13 years from now. Given the progress it has made, experts now believe that China can achieve its target a few years ahead of the deadline.

China has actually taken steps to stop building coal plants. In January, China stopped construction of 103 new coal-fired plants.

"India makes its participation contingent on receiving billions and billions and billions of dollars in foreign aid from developed countries."

FACT: India did not make any monetary demand in order to sign the agreement. It is nowhere stipulated in the pact that India will receive a certain amount of capital. The country never has never asked for 'billions and billions and billions of dollars'.

Pointing fingers at India and China, he said: "I cannot in good conscience support a deal that punishes the United States, which is what it does, the world’s leader in environmental protection while imposing no meaningful obligations on the world’s leading polluters."

FACT: It is true that there is an increase in carbon emission by India and China due to homegrown consumption and lack of infrastructure. But India's carbon emissions per capita are still one-tenth, and China's half, of that of the US.

According to the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) released this year, India's per capita emissions are still relatively low, but emis­sions are rapidly increasing.

For 2017, India's ranked at 20 on the index, an improvement of three places as compared to 2016. Whereas, America slipped from 35 in 2016 to 43.

Also, in absolute terms, America continues to be the second largest polluter as it is responsible for 16 percent of global CO2 emission.

Key data for top 5 CO2 emitters as per CCPI rank. Source: CCPI 2017

co2


The Green Climate Fund


"The Green Fund would likely obligate the United States to commit potentially tens of billions of dollars, of which the United States has already handed over $1 billion. Nobody else is even close."

FACT: All contributions to the GCF are voluntary and the pact cannot obligate the US to contribute money.  Former President Obama pledged  USD 3 billion to the Green Climate Fund. The US commitment to the fund was capped at 30 percent of the fund's total, with the expectation of its share declining over time as more countries pitched in.

CONSEQUENCES


Impact on India


The Indian renewable energy sector, which is expected to spearhead the country’s green movement, has witnessed rapid growth over the past few years. Experts believe it would continue to grow regardless of any aid from developing countries.

"We don't expect any adverse impact from the US move on India. India's adoption of renewables is not dictated by any external considerations. On the contrary, renewable sector presents huge economic, social and environmental benefits for India," Vinay Rustagi, MD, Bridge to India, an Indian renewable market research firm said, told Moneycontrol.

"US has been providing valuable financial and operational assistance in this sector to India. But withdrawal of these schemes can be mitigated by suitable planning and recalibration of other programmes," he added.


Is US hurtling in the wrong direction?

Not only has the US left the Paris agreement, few months back it also rolled back incentives that were powering the country's emerging renewable industry. In its bid to create more mining jobs, it also recently lifted restrictions on the coal industry.

The renewable sector was emerging as a major job creator in the US but that trend might reverse now. Coal industry leaders have said that this move will not create many jobs as most of the mining process is now automated.

Infographic: More Workers In Solar Than Fossil Fuel Power Generation | Statista

Statista

Also, because the free market is playing its bit and fossil fuels are falling out of favour in the US, such forced stimuli won't be able to add new jobs in coal and mining but might hurt the rising employment opportunities in the renewable sector.

Infographic: Fossil Fuels Are Falling Out Of Favor In The U.S. | Statista

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