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Climate envoy slams rejection of Paris deal; WH says US will cut on own terms
By Mariėtte Le Roux
Bonn (AFP) Nov 16, 2017

US 'committed' to emissions cuts, on its own terms: offical
Bonn (AFP) Nov 16, 2017 - The Trump administration is "committed" to limiting greenhouse gas emissions, but in ways that do not threaten energy security or market competitiveness, a US official told a UN climate conference in Bonn Thursday.

The United States remains "committed to mitigating greenhouse gas emissions," said Acting Assistant Secretary of State Judith Garber.

"Our guiding principles are universal access to affordable and reliable energy, and open, competitive markets that promote efficiency and energy security, not only for the United States but around the globe," Garber said.

She said President Donald Trump still intends to withdraw from the Paris climate pact as soon as possible, but "we remain open to the possibility of rejoining at a later date under terms more favourable to the American people."

Quitting the historic, 196-nation treaty -- which will take four years -- does not mean the United States will not seek to curb the fossil fuel emissions that drive global warming, she said.

"Irrespective of our views on the Paris Agreement, the United States will continue to be a leader in clean energy and innovation," Garber told ministers and heads of state at the 12-day negotiations, which end on Friday.

Earlier in the week, Washington went against the grain of the Bonn talks by hosting a "side event" in which White House officials and US energy executives promoted the role of "cleaner fossil fuels" in curbing climate change.

"It's in the global interest to make sure that when fossil fuels are used, that it's as clean and efficient as possible," George David Banks, a special energy and environment assistant to Trump, told the event marked by protests.

US officials point to projections that major developing economies such as China and India will depend on coal and natural gas to power growth for decades to come.

At the same time, a growing body of research suggests reaching the Paris Agreement goal of capping global warming at "well under" two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) depends on sharply curbing the use of fossil fuels, the main source of greenhouse gases.

In abandoning the Paris Agreement, Trump reneged on pledges made under the previous Obama administration to cut US carbon emissions 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.

He also said he would cut US funding to help poor countries prepare for climate change and cope with its impacts, leaving some $2.5 billion dollars pledged to the Green Climate Fund unpaid.

UN envoys are tasked with writing a "rulebook" in Bonn for the Paris Agreement, which goes into effect in 2020.

The Obama-era official who helped deliver the 2015 Paris Agreement, lashed out Thursday at the Donald Trump administration's "wrongheaded" decision to abandon the first-ever pact committing all countries to limiting climate change.

Todd Stern, who was Barack Obama's special envoy for climate change, said he was "annoyed, frustrated" by the new president's rejection of a deal that took the world's nations more than two decades to negotiate.

"It's completely wrongheaded thing to do," Stern, who left the state department in 2016, told AFP on the sidelines of a UN climate conference in Bonn which he attended as an observer.

"Climate change is a huge challenge, we all know that," he said.

"We are in a... race against time to transform the economy faster than the bad stuff of climate change," he said.

"Trying to say it's a hoax, or it doesn't mean anything, or it's a terrible agreement and the rest of the world is laughing at us, is just so.. ridiculous."

Obama was a champion of the deal which America ratified just two months before Trump, who has described climate change as a "hoax", was elected to the White House.

Trump announced in June that America would abandon the pact, but the rules determine this cannot happen until November 2020.

The United States is the world's biggest historical greenhouse gas polluter, and second only to China for current-day emissions.

This week, Syria became the 196th country to formally adopt the Paris Agreement, leaving America as the only nation in the UN climate convention to reject it.

The pact commits countries to limiting average global warming to under two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over Industrial Revolution levels, and 1.5 C if possible, to avert calamitous climate change-induced storms, drought and sea-level rises.

To bolster the agreement, nations submitted voluntary commitments to curb emissions.

But the 1 C mark has already been passed, and analysts say the world is headed for a 3 C-warmer world, or more, on current country pledges.

- 'More angry than sad' -

While waiting to exit the deal, Washington is participating in the UN climate talks, where envoys are working out "rules" for putting the agreement into action.

Not all have welcomed the presence of the Americans in their midst, and Stern said Trump's decision "inevitably undermines the credibility and... strength of the US team."

He also criticised the White House hosting a sideline event at the talks on Monday, where administration officials and energy company executives defended continued fossil fuel use.

"Do I think it's constructive to do an event on coal? No, obviously not," said Stern, now a senior fellow with the Brookings Institution, a Washington-based think-tank.

Having invested more than seven years in negotiating the Paris Agreement, Stern said he felt "more angry than sad" at the way things have turned out -- "annoyed, frustrated".

"Ideologues thought it was a good idea, and some of the president's so-called base supporters thought it was a good idea, but you have to look pretty hard to find informed people, companies... who thought that was a good idea," he said.

World leaders plead for climate action at UN forum
Bonn (AFP) Nov 15, 2017
World leaders shared the spotlight with a 12-year-old Pacific islander on Wednesday to drive home a plea for urgent climate action despite the Trump administration's rejection of a planet rescue plan. UN chief Antonio Guterres, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel led the diplomatic push in Bonn, but it was a small boy with a big smile who got the message acro ... read more

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Climate Science News - Modeling, Mitigation Adaptation

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