US pulls out of Paris Agreement: Why Donald Trump is wrong in blaming India for climate change

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June 2, 2017

Jury is still out whether the United States can really withdraw from the Paris Agreement on Climate Change immediately after the announcement by President Donald Trump.

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June 2, 2017

Jury is still out whether the United States can really withdraw from the Paris Agreement on Climate Change immediately after the announcement by President Donald Trump.

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Some observers have pointed out that the US cannot walk away from the pact, signed by 195 countries two years back, before 2020. However, US President Donald Trump has announced to pull out of the Paris Agreement saying that it imposed 'no meaningful obligations on the world's leading polluters naming India and China.

Trump singled out India in particular. Trump said, "India will be allowed to double its coal production by 2020. Think of it: India can double their coal production. We are supposed to get rid of ours." But Donald Trump, it seems, is ill-informed on India's obligation under the Paris Agreement and the exemplary progress made by India in reducing the use of carbon fuels.

WHAT IS PARIS AGREEMENT

Scientific studies, carried out over decades, show that the earth's average temperature has been increasing consistently. Carbon emissions have been identified as the principal cause of the rising temperature, which if goes unchecked will bring doom to the blue planet.

World leaders had been attempting to find a way to minimize the use of carbon fuels, which are essential for development, particularly of the middle and low income group countries, which have not reached the stage of technological advancement to use non-carbon fuels.

In December, 2015 the world leaders gathered at Paris and after hectic parleys, an agreement was reached which set goals for each country. The principle for fixing the target was devised as such to fix accountability of the countries in contributing to global warming leading to climate change. More polluting countries were asked to do more on reducing carbon emissions.

BIGGEST POLLUTERS OF THE WORLD

The Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval or simply EDGAR database is considered most credible for calculating carbon emissions. EDGAR database was created by the European Commission and Netherlands Environmental Agency.

According to EDGAR database for 2015, China is the biggest polluter contributing 29.5 per cent of the global carbon emissions. China is followed by Donald Trump's own country, the United States, which releases 14.34 per cent of carbon emissions of the world. According to the US' own record, the country saw a two per cent jump in carbon emission last year after showing decline for years.

India is the fourth biggest polluter with 6.8 per cent share after the European Union, which contributes 9.6 per cent of the total global carbon emissions. However, the story changes more dramatically if one considers the per capita carbon emission. Donald Trump must not have seen or analysed the figures before making a scapegoat of India for shying away from fulfilling his country's climate obligations.

BIGGEST POLLUTERS PER CAPITA

The US still finds itself among table toppers on the account of per capita carbon emission. China occupies middle of the table while India is towards the bottom of the table.

As per EDGAR database release for 2015, Qatar emits highest per capita carbon at 39.1 followed by Kuwait 24.4, UAE 21.8, Australia 18.6 and the US 16.1. China's per capita carbon emission is 7.7 units while India's is only 1.9. Even Vietnam – at 2.2 – emits more per capita carbon than India.

HISTORICAL BURDEN

The excessive burning of carbon fuels started after industrial revolution and the United States has been burning coal, oil and natural gas for longer periods than any other country in the world. It is estimated that the US is responsible for about one-third of the excess carbon dioxide in the earth's environment causing climate change. Ironically, the US has only four per cent of world's population.

Even China, the biggest polluter, is responsible for only one-sixth excess of carbon dioxide with nearly 18.5 per cent world's population. India's carbon emission has only increased in recent decades as the country missed the opportunity to transform into modern technology-based society after the advent of industrial revolution. Still, Donald Trump thinks India was given undue advantage in the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

INDIA'S GREEN PERFORMANCE

The Paris Agreement sets India the target of reducing use of fossil fuel by 40 per cent by 2030. India is well on course of meeting the target well ahead of the cut-off year.

According to the national electricity plan, 57 per cent of power generation in the country will be sourced from non-fossil sources by 2027. This means, India will be exceeding its Paris Agreement target by almost 50 per cent and that too, three years ahead of schedule.

The government has only recently cancelled coal-based power projects of around 13.7 gigawatt capacity. The government has also clarified that no new coal-based plants would be announced till the completion of those already in pipeline.

The government has been aggressively pushing for electrification of every Indian village under Ujala scheme. But, the intent is to meet the demands through non-coal sourced energy.

In April, the government announced more subsidies on wind and solar energy power generators making renewable energy cheaper than before. But, the advisors of Donald Trump seemed to have less time to do a reality check before the US President went on to blame India for something his own country has been responsible for.

The latest stand of Trump is expected to have its bearing on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the US later this month. Narendra Modi and Donald Trump are likely to have face-to-face meeting on June 26 and 27 in United States.


Courtesy: India Today