Sunday

17th Dec 2017

EU 'regrets' Trump U-turn on clean power

  • Trump said his decision will end a “war on coal” (Photo: Kris Duda)

The European Union's climate chief has expressed “regret” at US president Donald Trump's executive order on Tuesday (28 March) aimed at ending policy that sets limits to how much greenhouse gas emissions American power plants can emit.

“We regret the US is rolling back the main pillar of its climate policy, the clean power plan,” said EU commissioner for climate action, Miguel Arias Canete.

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  • EU embraces China on climate. Canete (l) is meeting Xie Zhenhua, Special Representative of China for Climate, on Wednesday (Photo: European Commission)

“Now, it remains to be seen by which other means the United States intends to meet its commitments under the Paris agreement.”

The US promised in France in 2015 that it would reduce its emissions by 26-28 percent by 2025, compared to 2005.

The clean power plan was a core part of achieving that goal. Without it, meeting the climate targets will be “virtually impossible” for the US to meet its target said Bob Ward, a policy and communications director at the London School of Economics' climate change institute, according to AFP.

According to Trump, his decision will lead to “a new era in American energy and production and job creation” and will end a “war on coal”. Coal is the most polluting of fossil fuels.

Trump signed the decree flanked by coal miners.

But miners have mostly been losing jobs due to automation and critics doubt that Trump's move will put them back in work.

It is yet unclear whether the US will completely pull out of the 2015 Paris agreement, which aims to curb emissions so that the Earth's temperature rise will halt at 2 degrees Celsius, or preferably at 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Beyond 2 degrees Celsius, scientists believe that the planet's climate will be disrupted in such a way that some currently liveable parts of the world become uninhabitable.

China

Meanwhile, the EU has sought and found a new partner in the fight against climate change: China.

“Others may roll back, but the EU and China will forge ahead with the Paris agreement and the clean energy transition,” said climate commissioner Canete.

Canete is in Beijing on Wednesday to meet China's special representative for climate change and the administrator of China's National Energy Administration.

China is in the process of setting up its own emissions trading system, partly modelled on the EU's carbon permit exchange .

Trump 'will lose'

On Tuesday, former UN secretary general Kofi Annan told journalists in Brussels that even though Trump “may not accept climate change”, all the world's other countries “will go along, including China” with the Paris agreement.

“I think he is going to lose [on his climate U-turn],” Annan said about Trump, without elaborating how this would happen.

Last week, at an energy conference in Berlin, Trump's views on climate change were also a topic of debate.

Swiss solar power enthusiast Bertrand Piccard said that Trump's pro-coal attitude was outdated.

“I believe if you want to make a country great again, you have to see what creates money and what creates jobs,” said Piccard, who was one of the pilots to fly a fully solar-powered flight around the world for the first time.

“Twenty years ago, even 10 years ago, the answer would not have been the same. Today the answer is clearly that you create more jobs and you make more profit if you use renewable energy, and if you use clean technology to save energy,” said Piccard.

Climate First

Focussing on the business case of clean energy is also part of the European Union's strategy towards Trump.

“The clean energy transition does not run counter to economic interest, as often claimed,” said EU energy union commissioner Maros Sefcovic earlier this month.

Dutch environment minister Sharon Dijksma said, according to newspaper Nrc.next on Wednesday, that she wanted to show Trump that climate policy and economic growth could go hand in hand.

Dijksma is planning to hold a "Climate First" conference in the US and said she received support from the EU commission, Germany, France, Austria, and Luxembourg, at last month's environment ministerial meeting in Brussels.

US prevents G7 energy statement

The United States did not sign a joint statement at a G7 summit on energy because it did not want to include a reference to the Paris climate agreement.

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