All India Radio (AIR) : Implications of US withdrawal from Paris Climate Accord


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In news: World’s second largest greenhouse gas emitter USA will remove itself from global treaty.

Reason: US withdrew from this agreement with the reason that most of the jobs are outside the USA.

Related to the past: The same argument was made by President Bush in 1997 when USA moved out of the Kyoto protocol. The underlined reason was that the senate by the vote of 98-0 rejected the Kyoto Protocol.

That’s why President Obama chose to ratify the Paris agreement by himself and decided to not send to senate.

Why senate and large section of USA opposes the Paris agreement?

They have a feeling that their economic competitors are going to be India in the future and at present China. Since the Kyoto protocol and the Paris agreement imposed no legally binding cuts on them, they would tend to lose the competitive advantage in terms of economic growth and the resulting jobs. This is considered to be a very strong sentiments in USA.

Secondly, the new president has this feeling that by making bilateral deals with countries, he can better terms of those countries with USA rather than through multilateral process. So he has also made the point that while going out of the Paris agreement, he is prepared to get a better deal. This better deal will respond to the sentiments prevailing in USA that china and India should do more in combating climate change.

Impact on India

The emissions by India are one-fifth that of china and one-third of USA even though the population is four times. But India is a late developer. The electricity produced today is at the level which Chinese were producing at 1980. India cannot impose any restrictions on the kind of electricity generated. There can be switch from coal to gas or renewable energy. But the total electricity production cannot be compromised.

But the problem arises that India is going to face some pressure despite its low carbon and per capita emissions. PM of India wanted to introduce the notion of ‘climate justice’ as a central element of Paris agreement. It means that while we protect the environment and recognise the importance of keeping within certain limits, economic growth cannot be compromised because other countries have benefited from use of fossil fuels and late developers should not be penalised. However, this was not agreed in Paris agreement.

India will go along with the commitments it has made but it has not given timelines for the same. But with USA moving out, there is likely pressure on India to meet shortfall.

India’s emission of C02 are one third of global average. India’s total C02 emission is 6.81% of the world and per capita emission is 1.5 in 2015.

China’s total C02 emission is 29.51% of the world and per capita emission is 7.7 whereas USA’s total C02 emission is 14.34% of the world and per capita emission is 16.1.

Then comes question that why is India linked with china. This is because china and india are two countries that have the potential to overtake USA. India cannot be faulted on emissions are china’s emission (29%) are more than USA (16%).

Thus India is targeted because it said that if global community wanted India to do more than its capability and before time, then there should be support of transfer of technology and financial resources for containing global warming. This is what US president picked upon and said that India is taking billions for signing Paris agreement.

What next?

President Trump has said that USA will seize the implementation of Paris agreement immediately. USA will not take any measures and not give 2 billion dollars it was to give to climate fund and not allow the UN to review what it is doing.

In three years’ time, many countries would not be willing to let USA come on board because by then their emissions may have increased or remained steady or failed to decrease them substantially. So whether the new administration will be able to meet that gap after four years will be question immediately raised.

Once you come out of the international agreement and want to back, it is difficult as the context changes.

USA has second time in 20 years walked out of legally binding commitments.

Role of leadership

USA has taken leadership in many multilateral treaties. Now the paradox is that they are one of largest contributor in world for pollution and they are going to exit the Paris agreement.

For this, EU, India and China have to come together as it is not a regional problem but a global problem. The use of coal has peaked globally. So there is not going to be additional use of coal in world. Similarly, use of oil has peaked in USA and Europe. Now they will continue to use oil but not more oil. There is a change in source of type of energy used because urbanisation has taken place.

So even without push of USA, the way technology is advancing, economies are getting linked to each other, question of global limits being exceeded is not very serious. There might be delay in achieving the goals but it is not that the world is not going to do anything without the leadership of one country.

China has become leader in production and deployment of renewable energy technology. So they are going to push for solar and wind energy in big way. They are prepared to give loans for it and subsidise the technology.


India will review its approach to the changing world as now USA has withdrawn from two things- climate change and trade with East Asian countries, both of which is important for India.

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