President Trump’s announcement on US withdrawal from Paris Agreement is unethical and immoral ― MCCG

JUNE 6 ― The Malaysian Climate Change Group* (MCCG), a coalition of six environmental non-governmental organisations with a focus on climate change, is appalled by the decision of the President of the United States of America Donald Trump to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Protesters hold up signs during a demonstration in front of the White House in Washington, DC on June 1, 2017, objecting to US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate accord.
President Donald Trump declared that the United States will withdraw from the 2015 Paris accord and try to negotiate a new global deal on climate change. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL J. RICHARDS

In doing so, he has reneged on the US’ commitment to the principle on common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which the country as a Party to the Convention is still obligated to abide by.

In effect this principle means that countries which have benefitted most from contributing to the accumulation of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the atmosphere, which cause climate change, are required to take action first to significantly reduce their GHG emissions. To not do so, especially as the biggest economy and as the largest emitter per capita of carbon dioxide (the main greenhouse gas) in the world, is both unethical and immoral.

The MCCG rejects Trump’s assertion that the Paris Agreement is unfair to the US. Both China and India which have been singled out to support his Administration’s dubious claim, have made significant commitments to increase their use of renewable energy to 20% and 40% of their energy mix, respectively. Further, China has committed more to the Green Climate Fund, which will finance investment in low-carbon development, than the US($3.1 billion vs $3.0 billion).

The Paris Agreement is an agreement within the UNFCCC – dealing with greenhouse gas emissions’ mitigationadaptation and finance starting in the year 2020 – which came into effect on October 5, 2016. As of June 2017, 195 UNFCCC members have signed the agreement, of which 147have ratified it.

Coming a few days before World Environment Day, which fell on June 5, President Trump’s announcement has overshadowed this year’s important day which has the theme of ‘Connecting People to Nature’.

Looking forward, the MCCG is heartened by the response from non-federal government state actors in the US including state governments, cities, businesses and universities, which, according to the New York Times (June 1, 2017), are preparing to submit a plan to meet the US’ GHG emissions’ targets under the Paris Agreement.MCCG acknowledges the role of civil society in the US in creating the groundswell of support for this development by making it clear Trump does not act on their behalf.

In Malaysia the MCCG is heartened by Natural Resources and Environment Minister Dato Sri’ Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar’s statement that Malaysia, as part of the 147 countries which ratified the Paris Agreement, will continue working towards achieving its goals. Yet, while the Agreement was an important achievement, the targets set will not be enough to keep temperature rise well below 2oC based on UNEP’s The Emissions Gap Report 2016. The means to address this gap, which will have catastrophic effects on humanity especially future generations, will be for countries, with industrialised economies taking the lead, to increase their emissions’ reduction targets.

In this regard, MCCG calls upon the Malaysian Government to play a leading role for Like Minded Developing Countries (LDMC) by scaling up its ambitions in its current National Determined Contributions road map to address climate change. As a signatory to the Paris Agreement, Malaysia also needs to show its commitment to transitioning to a low-emission, carbon-resilient development pathway with an emphasis on increasing the share of renewable energy and reducing that of coal in its energy mix.

* MCCG comprises the Centre for Environment, Technology and Development Malaysia, Environmental Protection Society Malaysia, Global Environment Centre, Malaysian Nature Society, Persatuan Belia Perubahan Iklim and WWF-Malaysia.

** This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.

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