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.
“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.