Janina Lim – Fourth Estate Contributor
Geneva, Switzerland (4E) – Despite US President Donald Trump’s threats of withdrawing from the Paris climate accord, the country is still likely to meet its commitment to the deal as the business community works toward greener operations, according to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).
“In all likelihood, the United States of America will live up to its Paris commitment, not because of the White House, but because of the private sector,” said UNEP executive director Erik Solheim, following the release of the “Emissions Gap” report, which provides a scientific review on the impact of national measures on greenhouse gas emissions.
“All the big American companies are dedicated to go in the green direction,” he added.
Trump has promised to step out of the deal insisting that the provisions are unfair to the US while also forwarding claims that climate change is a hoax.
The Paris deal targets to limit global temperature increases to 2 degrees Celsius (Fahrenheit) – or more ambitiously even capping it to as low as 1.5 degrees C — by the year 2100.
Even so, lead author John Christensen of UN Environment thinks the Trump administration’s impact on efforts could affect “negotiation dynamics” with other countries and spur ‘noise-makers’ who “are opposed to the basic idea” of fighting climate change.
Christensen also noted that the US commitments in the Paris accord, as forged by the Obama administration, were “not that ambitious in the first place.”
UNEP said that that even as current national commitments were achieved, a temperature increase of 3 degrees Celsius by the end of the century is still “very likely — meaning that governments need to deliver much stronger pledges when they are revised in 2020.”
Helping the US fulfill its determined contributions are the growing number of companies shifting to a green direction, UN officials said.
In addition, the UNEP noted the “rapidly expanding mitigation action” particularly China and India’s use of renewable energy which put carbon-dioxide emissions at stable levels since 2014.
Nevertheless, the UN still called for countries and industries to exhaust more initiatives in cutting these gas emissions which aggravate global warming.
The report also slammed emerging companies’ steps to build coal-fired electricity plants and insisted that renewable energies is a wise investment over the long term.
“Many countries now recognize that the transition to a low-carbon economy will generate sustainable growth and development, with lower poverty and higher living standards,” Bob Ward, an expert on climate change policy at the London School of Economics, said.
“High-carbon economies look increasingly uncompetitive.”
The UNEP report was released ahead of a climate meeting next week in Bonn, Germany where countries are expected to discuss their achievements so far in cutting green house gas emissions and perhaps scale their national efforts to boost momentum to the Paris deal.
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