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Friday 2 June 2017

Was US treated fairly in Paris CC agreement?

Focusing narrowly on the Paris Climate Change (COP21) commitments of the US, China and India, Donald Trumps' claim that the US was disadvantaged has some merit. Neither India nor China have agreed to make any cuts in their emissions to 2030, they have committed only to change the mix of their emissions by changing their emissions intensity. This does  translate into an economic incentive to China and India over the US. And given China is already the world's largest GHG emitter it is time for China to make a commitment to stop growing its emissions!

Nevertheless that does not tell the whole story. The COP21 global agreement was intended to set targets whereby each country would be contributing "fairly'' to limiting global warming to <2 degrees C by 2100.

I have argued in my series of articles "Seeking a fair GHG reduction target" ( 1,2,3,4,5, 6) that an equitable contribution by all countries requires 4 principles to be followed; -
  1. Each country has to mitigate their own contribution to CC.
  2. If global emissions are projected to produce global warming beyond the 2C degree target, then all countries have to reduce their emissions in the same proportion that they contributed to CC.
  3. Developing countries are allowed a proportionate quota of 'free emissions'.
  4. Countries which face the burden of climate change have to be compensated by those who caused it.
If you compare the COP21 commitments to that required by applying these principles you find that the countries with the greatest contributors to global warming, USA, China, Europe, and to a lesser extent India, have made inadequate commitments. 

Consequently the countries with smaller contribution to the global warming problem are wearing a disproportionate burden on their economies. In short Trump is right and wrong!

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