WILL TRUMP BRING BACK THE COAL INDUSTRY?

by Gianluca Errico with Silvana Rivella NEW YORK CITY. Donald Trump is looking at quick ways of withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement in defiance of widening international backing for the plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions, Reuters London has reported. Paris COP20 is a climate change accord agreed by nearly 200 countries in December 2015, which came into force on 4 November 2016. The agreement commits world leaders to keeping global warming below 2C, seen as the threshold for safety by scientists, and pursuing a tougher target of 1.5C. The carbon emission curbs put forward by countries under Paris are not legally-binding but the framework of the accord, which includes a mechanism for periodically cranking those pledges up, is binding. The agreement also has a long-term goal for net zero emissions which would effectively phase out fossil fuels.

Since the US president-elect was chosen, governments ranging from China to small island states have reaffirmed support for the 2015 Paris agreement at 200-nation climate talks runned in November in Marrakesh, Morocco.

But, according to Reuters, a source in the Trump transition team said the victorious Republican, who has called global warming a hoax, was considering ways to bypass a theoretical four-year procedure for leaving the accord. “It was reckless for the Paris agreement to enter into force before the election,” said the source, who works on Trump’s transition team for international energy and climate policy, speaking on condition of anonymity. The Paris agreement went into force on 4 November 2016, four days before Donald Trump’s election. Alternatives were to send a letter withdrawing from a 1992 convention that is the parent treaty of the Paris agreement, voiding US involvement in both in a year’s time, or to issue a presidential order simply deleting the US signature from the Paris accord, the source told Reuters.

Many nations have expressed hopes the United States will stay. Morocco, the host for the talks, said the agreement that seeks to phase out greenhouse gases in the second half of the century was strong enough to survive a pullout. “If one party decides to withdraw that it doesn’t call the agreement into question,” foreign minister Salaheddine Mezouar told a news conference. Despite the threat of a US withdrawal, US secretary of state John Kerry said that he would continue his efforts to implement the Paris agreement until Barack Obama leaves office on 20 January 2017.

Speaking in New Zealand following a trip to Antarctica, Kerry appeared to take a swipe at Trump when he listed some of the ways in which global warming could already be seen. He said that there were more fires, floods and damaging storms around the world, and sea levels were rising. “The evidence is mounting in ways that people in public life should not dare to avoid accepting as a mandate for action,” Kerry said. But the simple truth is that ever since, the US industry and its fossil fuel supporters are trying to stop a surge in solar energy generation that could decimate utility companies across the country and finally put an end to their monopoly over energy generation. In fact, the most powerful utility executives in the country met to hear warnings about a growing threat to their dominance over the U.S. energy markets: solar panels. If demand for residential solar installations continued to grow unchecked, it could mean the death of their businesses as they knew them. A report warned of “declining retail sales” and a “loss of customers” to outright “obsolescence” of utility companies. Utility companies in Wisconsin, Georgia, Arizona, and other states have already pushed to impose harsh penalties on customers who produce some of their own power with rooftop solar panels. And now, Florida utility companies are trying to add their state to that list.

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