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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 May 31 - June 6  > US, 2nd biggest carbon polluter, should share responsibility for fight against climate change
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2017 May 31 - June 6 TOP3 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

US, 2nd biggest carbon polluter, should share responsibility for fight against climate change

June 3, 2017
Akahata editorial

U.S. President Donald Trump has announced his decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement which sets a framework of countermeasures against global warming after 2020. Citizens and governments around the world raised voices of anger and disappointment.

The U.S., the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the world, must play a large role in the fight against climate change. While the international community is stepping up joint efforts to deal with the serious threat of global warming, the Trump administration turned its back on the efforts, abandoning its responsibility to the current and future generations.

All countries will cut their GHG emissions

After protracted international negotiations, developed and developing countries overcame their differences and concluded the Paris Agreement in 2015. Under the treaty, all countries will reduce their carbon emissions. The deal aims to keep a rise in world’s temperature below two degrees Celsius (1.5 degrees if possible) from the pre-Industrial Revolution level. In order to achieve this, the parties to the agreement will work to depart from the dependence on fossil fuels and decrease GHG emissions to virtually zero by the end of the 21st Century. In September 2016, the U.S. and China, the two major carbon polluters in the world, entered the treaty which took effect two months later. So far, 147 countries and regions, including Japan, ratified the Paris Accord.

If the GHG emission level remains unchanged, it will lead to a temperature rise of more than four degrees Celsius in the late 21st Century, which will cause more frequent extreme weather events including storms and typhoons, as well as a sea-level rise, food shortages, and destruction of natural environments. These changes combined will pose a serious threat to human survival, world’s scientists warn. Leaders of G7 countries, except the U.S., express their intent to swiftly implement the Paris Agreement. China and India, both major GHG polluters, state that they will abide by the climate deal. President Trump’s announcement of the U.S. withdrawal highlighted the dangerous nature of Trump’s “America First” policy.

President Trump said, “The Paris Accord would undermine our economy, hamstring our workers.” However, his claim is far from the fact. Based on this CO2-cutting global effort, there has been a growing trend in the U.S. as well toward renewables as replacement for fossil fuel-power generation. The solar power-related industry alone has already generated more than 260,000 jobs. In 2015, the number of those who worked for this new industry exceeded that of those engaged in oil, gas, and coal-related businesses combined. The overall sector of the renewables, including wind-power generation, has created more than 770,000 new jobs, according to U.S. statistics. In January this year, over 630 U.S. companies and organizations submitted petitions demanding that the country abide by the Paris Agreement, and over 1,000 businesses signed a statement calling for the establishment of a “low-carbon society”. Therefore, what undermines the U.S. economy is the Trump decision to opt out of the global agreement

Paris framework will go on

The U.S. is one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases in the world. Its withdrawal from the Paris Agreement will seriously have a negative impact on the ongoing global effort to tackle climate change. However, the framework of the Paris climate accord, which has already entered into force, will remain intact. The EU and China together issued a statement upholding the Paris deal as a “historic achievement” and called on international commitments for the full implementation of the deal. Thus, the momentum toward a low-carbon society is gaining strength and not swayed by the absence of the U.S. from the Paris pact. If President Trump insists on maintaining his arrogant decision, he will inevitably isolate his country from the international community.

Japan is the fifth largest emitter in the world. It must take up its great responsibility to implement countermeasures against global warming. The government should try to persuade the U.S. to join in the international framework. Japan should also increase its reduction target and step up its global warming countermeasures. As a signatory, Japan must make every effort to accomplish the objectives outlined in the Paris Accord.
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