Monday, October 18, 2021

The Paris climate deal is in jeopardy. Here’s how to fix it.

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By Stefano Raneri, Director International Communications and Global Channels of Greenpeace

This is a big week for European and US climate policy.

This Sunday, President Trump will meet with the President of France at the White House. They will be discussing climate change and Paris.

And the President of the European Council will also attend the Climate: Relationships in Focus event at the White House on February 21.

Almost universally, the first impressions of the President of the European Council, President Emmanuel Macron, during his US visit in late 2017 indicated that he will tackle climate change even more explicitly than his predecessor, President Tusk.

Since then the public statements of the European Commission and French President Macron against President Trump are strong. This has been made clear even before the US non-permanent presidency of the UN Security Council gave us a strong reminder that climate change is a source of international security challenges.

Trump is facing almost unanimous international condemnation for his decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement.

French President Macron has been our most vocal champion. He has consistently reiterated Paris’s commitment to the agreement, even if our US partners (President Trump and the EPA) are not honoring their commitments. And, indeed, their plans to sabotage the Paris agreement are blatant.

If that were not enough, we also witnessed President Trump’s amazing unveiling of the EPA’s 2020 proposal for road cars, trucks and motorbikes to slash these industries’ climate-saving fuel efficiency standards. This would cause more than 30,000 American jobs to be lost.

The loss of jobs in the US would affect our EU-US climate vision. Together with climate-friendly US industries, we will need to work together to create good, green jobs.

Remember, American cars are 60% of EU vehicle sales. For the US, EU citizens are responsible for the import of 41% of all US manufactured goods. And each European vehicle imported to the US from China is responsible for the import of 84,000 EU vehicles – quite a reversal compared to 2010.

Also at the heart of this increased bilateral competitiveness is the need to invest in clean technology. About half of EU vehicles are running on oil derived from tar sands or mature fields. In the US, it is equivalent to oil derived from the middle of the Sahara desert.

Likewise, one million Chinese industries in the US now produce soda ash, one of the most important non-oil end-uses of tar sands.

Last September, Chinese President Xi Jinping made a bold global climate commitment, which is now ratified by the People’s Republic of China, making it one of the first coal-consuming countries to move to renewable sources.

But all other top-tier US polluters (CSUs, the Major Economies Forum, the NRDC Energy Dialogue and other major US stakeholders) still lobby the Trump administration to weaken the 2030 renewable energy national standards that will be the foundation of the Paris climate agreement, instead of helping to roll back the country’s carbon footprint.

Europe and the US were once the dominant global climate players – only in last year’s report, we have found that the USA is now outranked by China.

We all must have the courage to speak out against this double standard.

Europe and the US need to be strong in our climate leadership, and on these two fronts – diplomatic and diplomatic-related. President Trump is clearly confused when he makes strange claims about climate change.

He is wrong to confuse the Paris Agreement for a new national policy on carbon emissions.

But he is even more wrong to act on this position, in contradiction to his stated goal to be the world’s most respected nation. Europe and the United States both need to step up the pace of climate action in the face of this serious challenge.

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