Climate talks under shadow of Trump threats

May 8, 2017 by Mariëtte Le Roux
The Paris climate-rescue deal reached to combat global warming, rapidly melting Antarctic ice, is under threat with the new US administration

US President Donald Trump's threats to pull America out of the climate-rescue Paris Agreement is expected to cast a long shadow over UN talks starting Monday to work on the nuts and bolts of the deal.

The 11-day haggle in Bonn is meant to start drafting a "rulebook" to guide member countries in the practical execution of the pact, which seeks to brake global warming by curbing .

But the negotiations risk being sidetracked by fears that the world's number two carbon polluter will withdraw and throw the entire process into disarray.

"Obviously, the speculation coming out of Washington is now at the top of our minds," environment and energy minister Thoriq Ibrahim of the Maldives told AFP.

This is the first round of negotiations under the UN's climate convention (UNFCCC) since Trump's ascent to the White House.

His predecessor Barack Obama, alongside China's Xi Jinping, led a diplomatic push which saw 195 countries seal the climate deal in the French capital in 2015, after years of tough bartering.

Widely hailed as the last chance to stave off worst-case-scenario global warming, the pact was savaged by Trump during his presidential campaign.

He called climate change a "hoax" perpetrated by China, and promised to "cancel" the deal as president.

With the rest of the world on tenterhooks ever since, Trump has said he will make his decision before the next G7 meeting on May 26-27 in Sicily.

"The question of whether this creates a difficult backdrop for the negotiations is clearly a 'yes'," said Paula Caballero, who heads the climate programme at the Washington-based World Resources Institute (WRI).

Some fear a US withdrawal from the agreement would dampen enthusiasm among other signatories for ramping up national emissions-cutting targets.

A "rulebook" must be drafted to guide countries in implementing the historic climate deal
It's about 'competitiveness'

Current pledges place the world on track for average global warming of around three degrees Celsius over pre-Industrial Revolution levels—far over the limit of two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) targeted in the Paris deal.

A State Department official confirmed last week that a US delegation will travel to Bonn, though it will be a "much smaller" one than in recent years.

"We are focused on ensuring that decisions are not taken at these meetings that would prejudice our future policy, undermine the competitiveness of US businesses, or hamper our broader objective of advancing US economic growth and prosperity," said the official, when asked about the US negotiators' brief.

The Trump administration has already proposed slashing funds for the UN climate science panel, for the Green Climate Fund that helps poor countries combat , and for the UNFCCC itself.

The forum's budget is a key item on the Bonn agenda.

There has been a chorus of appeals from US and foreign business leaders, politicians and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) for Washington not to abandon the agreement—including from the prime minister of Fiji, which will preside over the next round of high-level talks in November.

"Don't let the whole team down by leaving when we have a clear game plan and have put so many scores on the board," Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama appealed last week.

The key mission of the May 8-18 meeting is to start drafting "rules" for putting the agreement into action: what information must countries include in their emissions updates, for example, and how must they report?

The rulebook must be finished by 2018, when the first global emissions-cutting stocktake is due to be held.

"In Bonn this week it's important that progressive forces come together to manage any fall-out resulting from any US retreat," said analyst Mohamed Adow of Christian Aid, which tracks impacts on .

Explore further: Trump anti-climate ghost hangs over UN meeting

Related Stories

Trump anti-climate ghost hangs over UN meeting

May 6, 2017

For the first time since Donald Trump's ascent to the White House, UN negotiators gather next week to draft rules to take forward the climate-rescue Paris Agreement he has threatened to abandon.

Historic climate pact enters into force

November 4, 2016

A hard-fought pact to stave off worst-case-scenario global warming enters into force Friday after record-fast ratification by nations reassembling next week for a fresh round of UN climate talks.

Britain ratifies global climate pact

November 17, 2016

Britain ratified the Paris agreement on climate change Thursday, joining more than 100 other countries in a move that campaigners hope will prompt US President-elect Donald Trump to honour the deal.

US climate pledges likely to go unmet: study

November 10, 2016

The United States will likely fail to meet its pledges under the landmark Paris climate pact to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, analysts said Thursday on the margin of UN climate talks.

Australia ratifies climate pact amid Trump fears

November 10, 2016

Australia ratified the Paris climate agreement on Thursday, amid fears US president-elect Donald Trump could follow through on his pledge to "cancel" the landmark pact aimed at tackling global warming.

Recommended for you

EPA adviser is promoting harmful ideas, scientists say

March 22, 2019

The Trump administration's reliance on industry-funded environmental specialists is again coming under fire, this time by researchers who say that Louis Anthony "Tony" Cox Jr., who leads a key Environmental Protection Agency ...

Coffee-based colloids for direct solar absorption

March 22, 2019

Solar energy is one of the most promising resources to help reduce fossil fuel consumption and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions to power a sustainable future. Devices presently in use to convert solar energy into thermal ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

3 / 5 (2) May 08, 2017
Good! "President Trump keeps them honest", should be the title of this article.
3.7 / 5 (3) May 08, 2017
It's a weird world where the Chinese are shaping up to be the good guys.

But Trump pulling out makes sense. Russia is dependent on fossil fuel exports. Anything that hurts Russia will be a total no-go for Putin's puppet.
1 / 5 (1) May 08, 2017
Good! "President Trump keeps them honest", should be the title of this article.

If you think about it who has done more to bring "Global Warming" into the limelight more than President Trump? Maybe Al Gore.

Sure wish some of you who thinks your comments here or your recycling program in your kitchen does more to promote awareness of Global Warming than President Trump would speak up, so we could all get a good laugh at your expense.

Sorry antialias_phys I muted you and your half baked conspiracy theories for everything a long time ago.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.