On “Energy Independence” in March 2017, Mr. Trump

On 1 June 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that his country would pull out from the Paris Agreement. In a speech from the Rose Garden, the President averred that the landmark 2015 pact obliged American businesses to follow unfair environmental standards, making them uncompetitive in the market. He vowed to stand with the American people against what he called a “draconian” international law.It is natural for the President, a former businessman to stay in the good graces of huge oil corporations and other fossil fuel industries. In fact, a huge chunk of his mandate came from people who were aggrieved by the collapse of the coal industry and falling oil prices. But giving in completely to the demands of fossil fuel lobbyists and sacrificing long-term goals of a clean earth for short-term gains is not very presidential, to say the least.The Present :Reneging on the Paris Climate Agreement is just the tip of the iceberg of President Trump’s policy. Significant rollbacks of climate policy are now underway in the U.S. With his executive order on “Energy Independence” in March 2017, Mr. Trump revoked the Obama Administration’s Climate Action Plan which was critical to achieving the U.S. NDC (Nationally Determined Contribution) under the Paris Agreement. This led to a string of adverse developments including but not limited to repealing of the Clean Power Plan, imposing a new import tariff on solar panels and prolonging the life of coal plants through a payment for their grid “resiliency” attributes.It is hard to comprehend Mr. Trump’s rationale behind such decisions. It is evident from his statements that he believes that the agreement is less about the climate and more about other countries gaining a financial advantage over the United States. Trump once said that the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive. Announcing the decision to withdraw from the Agreement, Trump complained: “China will be allowed to build hundreds of additional coal plants. So we can’t build the plants, but they can, according to this agreement. India will be allowed to double its coal production by 2020. We’re supposed to get rid of ours.”¬†Perhaps Mr. Trump needs to be reminded that his country ranks 2nd in global carbon dioxide emission and so needs to play a more proactive role else it will fall behind in the renewable energy race.¬†President Trump’s decision to abandon the agreement is a blatant disregard for the effort put into months of negotiations to bring 175 parties to a consensus including 55 countries that produce 55% of the world’s greenhouse emission. The entry of India and China in 2016 marked a landmark victory for the agreement and demonstrated to the world that countries can rise above all the petty politics and infighting and unite to fight climate change. Without the U.S. there is no one left to ensure and enforce the agreed terms of the pact. The entire deal is at the risk of falling apart. Fortunately, countries like France, Germany, India are undeterred and have reemphasized their commitment to reduce their emission in order to reach the target of the Paris deal- limiting global temperature increase to 1.5 Celsius in this century.The Future :It is clear that nothing constructive on the renewable energy front will be achieved under this presidency. It is up to the remaining member states to take over the reins and work towards achieving the goals enshrined in the agreement. The path is not going to be easy. A lot of money is going to be invested in R to make renewable energy sources viable. It will take its toll on the economy of comparatively poor countries. It is not an easy path but is certainly the right path. One can only hope that the rest of the world do not succumb to corporate interests and see the Agreement through.¬†