Trump can kill UN climate deal, warns EU carbon market chief

US group Friends of Coal campaigning for Trump. [Sarah Hina/Flickr]

EXCLUSIVE/ The election of Donald Trump as President of the United States is a “real and imminent threat” to the fight against climate change, and “completely upends every single element” of the Paris Agreement, making it almost impossible to deliver, the MEP leading EU carbon market reform has warned.

Trump, elected today (9 November), has called climate change a hoax, saying it was “fictional”, and “created by the Chinese”.

The president-elect has threatened to pull the US out of the UN deal to cap global warming at no more than two degrees above pre-industrial levels with an aspirational 1.5 degree target. Today, EU Climate Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete wrote to Trump, stressing the need for continued EU-US cooperation.

Ian Duncan is the Conservative member of the European Parliament leading the reform of the EU’s Emissions Trading System (ETS), the world’s largest scheme for trading emissions allowances.

Reforming the ETS is a major part of the EU strategy to cut emissions in line with the bloc’s climate commitments.

World governments are this week meeting in Marrakech, Morocco for the COP22 climate conference, which aims to thrash out the practical implication of the landmark pact to cap global warming.

“It completely upends every single element of the Paris Accord and almost certainly makes it impossible to deliver,” Duncan said.

Who will listen to US Secretary of State John Kerry in Marrakech now?, he asked. US officials in Morocco are “speaking for nobody but themselves and for an outgoing administration.”

China and the US, the world’s two biggest emitters, ratified the Agreement at the same time, giving impetus to the push that brought the deal into force on 4 November, much earlier than expected.

US and China ratify Paris climate pact, leaving EU behind

The United States has joined China to formally ratify the Paris agreement to curb climate-warming emissions, the world’s two biggest economies said on Saturday, which could help put the pact into force before the end of the year.

“The extraordinary thing about Paris was that it came together in the way it did. The 1.5 degree ambition was an incredible thing to see,” Duncan said, One year on and the US participation is now in jeopardy.

“You can’t have the EU alone addressing climate change and nobody else doing it. Your industries will suffer immediately.”

Duncan, who represents Scotland, added, “The ramifications for climate change are a real and immediate threat.”

Dark mood in European Parliament

Duncan spent this morning at a meeting of MEPs from the other major European political parties. They discussed compromised amendments on the ETS bill but there was “no doubt that everyone recognised what Trump’s victory means.”

“A dark mood is the best description,” Duncan said of the meeting. “If we look behind our shoulders and no longer see allies to our left and right, then how far ahead of the pack can we go?”

Duncan, who has argued for climate change to be excluded from any Brexit negotiations, predicted that EU unity on climate action could splinter.

Paris is based on the global pain and cost of climate action being shared, he said. Greater costs being borne by the EU as a result of US recalcitrance could sap political will.

“Carbon trading is one of the best ways to fight climate change and it can be one of the most cost effective, Duncan said.

“If a significant part of the globe has chosen not to accept the Paris accord and its thresholds and targets then it is an issue for some MS who will view their competitiveness in a different way.”

Rust belt and climate denial 

One of the major planks in Trump’s victory was his triumph in the Rust Belt, an area dominated by polluting industry and where he said old industries were from yesterday but also for tomorrow.

“I don’t see how you can retreat from that and say global warming is real.  That’s a 180-degree volte face,” said Duncan.

“Trump’s views are beyond the established understanding of any of the big questions. It may well be he reflects and moderates but I haven’t seen any reflection or moderation in his approach this far.”

Trump’s victory was welcomed by some MEPs. Roger Helmer, of UKIP, does not believe in climate change.

He tweeted, “Paris is dead, as is COP22.”

What President Trump could mean for energy and climate policy

Before Donald Trump was elected America’s new president in yesterday’s elections (8 November), experts told that his presidency would have a corrosive effect on global and EU climate and energy policy.

Christiana Figueres, Convenor of Mission 2020 and former Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, said, “Beyond national politics, modernisation of the energy system and of basic infrastructure is good for the US economy, for jobs, for growth.”

Achim Steiner, Director of Oxford Martin School and former Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme, said, “"The outcome of the US election clearly implies potential shifts in climate policy of the new US administration.

“Notwithstanding short term changes in US posture and policy, the global economy has already begun to shift its focus towards a low carbon future. Markets and economics are likely to moderate any future US policy shift as US companies and investors assess what will keep America's economy competitive and in business in a global market - given that some its largest trading partners and competitors are already heavily investing in low carbon technologies and infrastructure.

“Add to that the rapidly growing number of US companies already employing millions of people in low carbon sectors and you can expect a strong domestic voice influencing future policy signals of the incoming administration in Washington.”

Hilda Heine, president of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, said, “President-elect Donald Trump has been the source of a lot of bluster on climate change over the last year, but now that the election campaign has passed and the realities of leadership settle in, I expect he will realise that climate change is a threat to his people and to whole countries which share seas with the US including my own."

Christoph Bals, Policy Director of the German NGO Germanwatch, said, ““You cannot ignore the facts. You cannot wish away the reality of the global climate crisis, of the global energy and transport transition or the commitments of the Paris Agreement. This wake-up call will make us fight even harder for human rights, for justice and against climate change.

"It is regrettable that the next US President has not yet understood that the world is on track to phase out fossil fuels. While it is clear that Mr Trump cannot withdraw the US nor undermine the Paris Agreement, there is a risk for the US to miss the boat in a race to a renewable future.”

Ulriikka Aarnio, International Climate Policy Coordinator at Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe, said, “It is regrettable that the next US President has not yet understood that the world is on track to phase out fossil fuels. While it is clear that Mr Trump cannot withdraw the US nor undermine the Paris Agreement, there is a risk for the US to miss the boat in a race to a renewable future.”

Greg Archer, clean vehicles director at T&E said, "In his acceptance speech, President Trump has been more conciliatory than in his rally rhetoric. He stressed he would reach out to his friends around the world and 'seek common ground, not hostility; partnership, not conflict'. The Paris agreement is a partnership among nations recognising the need to tackle the perils of climate change. Keeping the Paris commitment is a prerequisite to the 'great relationships' he seeks."

Paris Agreement: Saving face and negating Trump

The Paris Agreement has to come into force as soon as possible in order for the EU to maintain its tag as a climate policy trailblazer and to counter the effects of a possible Trump presidency. EURACTIV's partner Der Tagesspiegel reports.

ETS lead MEP: ‘EU’s carbon market is like a car without fuel’

EXCLUSIVE/ The European Union’s carbon market is like a broken-down car without any fuel, the Scottish MEP steering the debate on reforms of the EU’s Emissions Trading System (ETS) has told EURACTIV.


Life Terra

Funded by the LIFE Programme of the EU

The content of this publication represents the views of the author only and is his/her sole responsibility. The Agency does not accept any responsibility for use that may be made of the information it contains.

Subscribe to our newsletters