The US withdrawal from the 2015 Paris climate agreement, announced yesterday by the recently elected President Donald Trump, leaves China as the world’s undisputed leader in the quest to reduce CO2 emissions and promote renewable energy production.
Trump’s decision comes at a time when the EU has set ambitious targets concerning RES development, CO2 emission reductions and energy efficiency, and China has poured the greatest amounts to achieve such objectives.
The world’s main greengouse gas polluters, namely the US, China and EU member states, carry greater responsibility on the global stage as their behavior sets the example for others.
The US withdrawal will impact the Paris climate agreement on a number of levels. The international pact, which, prior to yesterday, was missing just Syria and Nicaragua, has now been left without the support of the world’s biggest ever CO2 polluter, and second biggest at present. The US will not be subject to any restrictions concerning emission reductions until 2020, at least. This prospect, along with other similar-minded US initiatives taken by the Tump-led US administration, including its withdrawn support for climate change research, all combine to mean that the US will, from now on, be left to walk in isolation.
Certain pundits contend that, depsite yesterday’s US walkout, the global trend towards clean energy and emission reduction policies also makes economic sense and, as a result, will continue being supported in the US, regardless of Trump’s intentions.
The US President’s climate pact withdrawal is also expected to make major political impact on an international scale, providing further impetus for China’s development as the world leader. The amounts invested by this country to counter climate change are staggering.
China is seeking to establish a new model for economic and industrial growth, which the country will aim to export along with its technology. The Chinese model shares certain similarities when compared to its European equivalent but many aspects differ. The absence of the US in this department will allow China to move freeely and have a greater influence on global developments.
At the same time, Trump’s climate change isolation should enable the US to export fossil fuels at competitive prices, which, to a certain degree, will affect the RES sector’s level of competitiveness.
The main objective of the Paris climate agreement is to limit global warming to a maximum average of 2 degrees Celsius. The absence of the US from the pact for at least four years, or eight if Trump is re-elected for a second term, greatly reduces the probability of this target being achieved, given the scale of the US. This increases the threat of irreparable environmental damage in the future.