Paris Accord: No end to climate action even if US withdraws, says UN environment head

New Delhi: President Donald Trump on Thursday is set to clear the air on whether the US would withdraw from the historic Paris Climate Agreement adopted by nearly 200 countries, including India.

Climate experts, citing multiple reports, say Trump is most likely poised to withdraw from the Paris accord.

But UN's Environment Programme Executive Director Erik Solheim is optimistic. He said it would be wrong to think that if the US does withdraw from the Paris pact, it will be the end of climate action there.

Climate action will also continue in the US even if Washington withdraws.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon addresses a high-level event on the entry into force of the Paris Agreement on climate change during the 71st session of the U.N. General Assembly at U.N. Headquarters, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016. AP

File image of former UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon addressing a high-level event on Paris Agreement on climate change on 21 September, 2016. AP

"In addition, there is the US private sector. Companies like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Walmart and Tesla are true global leaders when it comes to bringing down their carbon footprints. Even coal and oil companies are stepping up their shift to renewables. They are doing so because it's sound business and they want to remain competitive globally," he said.

Trump will announce his decision on Paris accord in the White House Rose Garden at 3 pm, on Thursday (US time). In a tweet he had dubbed climate change as a hoax.

The Paris Agreement aims to limit average global warming to 2 degrees Celsius by cutting greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels.

On ramifications for emerging economy countries like India and China if Trump waters down America's commitment to the Paris Agreement, Solheim said: "China and India do not depend on the United States — nor any other country — to set their own policies."

"And what we're seeing at the moment is significant steps from both Beijing and New Delhi to put their economies on a path of sustainable, inclusive and low-carbon growth because it makes perfect strategic and business sense to do so."

"There is now significant global momentum behind the Paris Agreement, because more and more countries see climate action as a positive pathway to faster development, innovation, energy security, improved public health and greater competitiveness in a globalised economy," the UN environment head said.

Globally, renewable power is surging, with sustained investment transforming the world's energy system.

"In other words, strong climate action is not just about saving the planet, it's also about seizing an opportunity and not missing the boat. If anything, we hope to see China and India stepping up the pace. If they do, they will be the winners."

The historic 2015 Paris Climate Agreement adopted by 196 countries aims to achieve zero net emissions shortly after 2050.

Solheim said with the Paris Agreement, the globe has seen the emergence of a more positive debate.

Updated Date: Jun 01, 2017 17:19 PM

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