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Current Affairs

US starts process of exiting Paris climate agreement

Date: 07 November 2019 Tags: Conventions

Issue

The United States has initiated the process of leaving the Paris Agreement, notifying the United Nations of its withdrawal from the landmark climate deal.

 

Background

After it leaves, the US will be the only country left out of the global protocol. Syria and Nicaragua, the last remaining countries who were earlier holding out, also became signatories in 2017.

 

Details

Paris Agreement

  • The Paris Agreement of 2016 is a historic international accord that brings almost 200 countries together in setting a common target to reduce global greenhouse emissions in an effort to fight climate change.

  • The deal is considered by many as the most significant international measure to address climate change since the formation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1992.

  • The pact seeks to keep global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels, and to try and limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

  • To this end, each country has pledged to implement targeted action plans that will limit their greenhouse gas emissions.

  • The Agreement asks rich and developed countries to provide financial and technological support to the developing world in its quest to fight and adapt to climate change.

Method for withdrawal

  • A country can only give a notice for leaving at least three years after the Paris Agreement came into force.

  • The US was eligible to move a notice for leaving on November 4 this year, which it did.

  • The withdrawal is not immediate. It takes effect one year after the submission of the notice. It means the United States will be out of Paris Agreement only on November 4 next year.

Implications of the move

  • The United States is the world’s second largest emitter of greenhouse gases. If it does not reduce its emissions befitting its status as the second largest emitter, it could seriously jeopardise the world’s objective of keeping the global temperature rise to within 2 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial times.

  • The United States plays a preeminent role in mobilising financial resources globally, and its absence from the scene could seriously hamper that effort.

  • While exiting the Paris Agreement does not automatically mean the abandonment of this target or of any future action by the United States on climate change, it would no longer be committed to these actions.

  • The United States will be out of the Paris Agreement, but by virtue of being a signatory to the UNFCCC would still continue to be a part of the other processes and meetings under the Framework Convention.

UNFCCC

  • The Framework Convention was the first international agreement to identify and acknowledge the problem of climate change. It was adopted in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 at the ‘Earth Summit’.

  •  It had laid down the principles and guidelines to achieve the objective of stabilising the greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere to levels that would cause least damage to climate system.

  • The Paris Agreement is an instrument of the Framework Convention to achieve that objective.