The Paris Agreement Beyond Trump - A Look at the Bigger Picture / by The Green Medium

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Let’s not talk about Donald Trump. I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I’m tired of hearing about Donald Trump and the United States. I didn't want to ignore the rest of the world and was curious to find out about the plans of the other signatories of the Paris Agreement. Because while the US Government takes a step back, the rest of the world is making huge strides. Let’s look at the bigger picture, shall we?

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Paris Climate Agreement is one of the most monumental global achievements since the Kyoto Protocol and brings together 146 countries to fight climate change. It sets the firm objective of limiting global temperature rise to 2 °C and instructs member nations to formulate policies outlined in Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (iNDCs).

Delegates celebrate after the signing of the Paris Agreement. Source: Carbonbrief.org

Delegates celebrate after the signing of the Paris Agreement. Source: Carbonbrief.org

However, assigning responsibility and deciding what constitutes a country’s fair contribution to such an agreement can be very complicated. One could add up a country's total greenhouse gas emissions [3] but this neglects the fact that a lot of developed countries “outsource” their emissions to developing countries for manufacturing goods [1] [2]. According to The Guardian, the most fair way is to calculate the per-person carbon footprint [10]. With these complications in place, I picked some of the most egregious countries based on different criteria for analysis - China, India, Brazil, and Canada.

With a population of 1.3 billion, China needs to balance rapid industrialization and urbanization with environmental care and climate change. It is currently the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases [3]. It ratified the Paris agreement on 3rd September 2016 and according to its iNDC, it will, peak CO2 emissions around 2030 and will lower them by 60% to 65% from 2005 levels, increase its share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption by around 20%, and increase forest stock volume by 4.5 billion cubic meters. It is on track to meeting these requirements and is trailblazing the path ahead.

Jungliangcheng power plant in Tianjin, China. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Jungliangcheng power plant in Tianjin, China. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Moving south, India is currently the world’s third largest producer of greenhouse gases even though per capita emissions are much lower than those of developed countries [3] [5]. The bulk of its emissions come from its energy industry with a staggering projected energy demand growth of 660% by 2031 [6]. Reduction of coal use and growth of renewable energy are India’s main tools in the fight to reach the Paris Agreement’s goals [11]. It is set to overachieve its iNDC target of 40% non-fossil fuel capacity by 2030 [12]. In addition, if it’s Draft Electricity Plan is implemented, India could reach 57% non fossil fuel capacity by 2027 [12]. India is setting an example that will hopefully inspire other countries.

The world's largest solar power plant in Kamuthi, TN, India. Source: Electrek.co

The world's largest solar power plant in Kamuthi, TN, India. Source: Electrek.co

Brazil is a very interesting study in greenhouse gas emissions. Most of its emissions come from land-use change which translates to deforestation of the Amazon basin, as opposed to energy use [7] [8]. Due to government policies to combat this deforestation, Brazil’s GHG emissions have significantly reduced since 1990. However, with an economic recession, and reduced spending on environmental matters, its emissions are on the rise [13]. Nevertheless, it has declared an emissions reduction target in its iNDC of 37% below 2005 levels and is a global leader in the fight against climate change [14]. It is times like this that highlight the importance of developed countries financially supporting developing countries.

And finally the Canucks. Canada accounts for 1.6% of current GHG emissions [3]. It ratified the Paris Accord on 5th October 2016. The recently announced Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change is a major step in meeting the accord's goals [9]. According to the tenets of the framework, Canada is targeting an emissions reduction of 30% below 2005 levels [9]. It is aiming to achieve this with measures such as Ontario joining the Western Climate Initiative cap-and-trade system, Alberta’s coal reduction, carbon tax and oil sands emissions cap, Quebec’s new high-rise building rules, and BC’s low carbon fuel standard [9]. However, according to the Climate Action Tracker organisation, Canada’s effort-sharing in this matter, though significant, is inadequate and it needs to do significantly more in order to meet the 2 °C requirement.

All in all, the world is moving forward with the Paris Agreement's stipulations. While the measures may not be enough in many respects, they still show promise for the future.

With lots of love,

Adnan

Works Cited

[1] "What Are 'outsourced Emissions'?" The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 14 Apr. 2011. Web. 13 June 2017.

[2] Glen P., Peters, et al. "Growth in Emission Transfers via International Trade from 1990 to 2008." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, no. 21, 2011, p. 8903. EBSCOhost,

[3] Olivier, Jos G. I, Jeroen A. H. W Peters, and Greet Janssens-Maenhout. Trends In Global Co₂ Emissions 2012 Report. The Hague: PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, 2012.

[4] China First iNDC: http://www4.unfccc.int/ndcregistry/PublishedDocuments/China%20First/China%27s%20First%20NDC%20Submission.pd

[5] Thomalla, Frank, et al. "Stockholm Environment Institute, Project Report-2009."

[6] TERI (2008) Mitigation Options for India: the Role of the International Community, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), New Delhi.

[7] Galford, Gillian L., et al. "The Amazon frontier of land-use change: croplands and consequences for greenhouse gas emissions." Earth Interactions 14.15 (2010): 1-24.

[8] Ferdman, Roberto A., and Lily Kuo. "Brazil Has the World’s Weirdest Carbon Footprint."Quartz. Quartz, 08 Nov. 2013. Web. 13 June 2017. 

[9] Canada.ca Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change

https://www.canada.ca/en/services/environment/weather/climatechange/pan-canadian-framework/introduction.html#1_4

[10] Clark, Duncan. "Which Nations Are Most Responsible for Climate Change?" The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 21 Apr. 2011. Web. 13 June 2017.

[11] India’s First iNDC:  http://www4.unfccc.int/submissions/INDC/Published%20Documents/India/1/INDIA%20INDC%20TO%20UNFCCC.pdf

[12] Tracker, Climate Action. "India." CLIMATE ACTION TRACKER. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 June 2017. <http://climateactiontracker.org/countries/india.html>

[13] Darby, Megan. "Brazil's Greenhouse Gas Emissions Rise on Deforestation Spike." Climate Home - Climate Change News. Climate Home, 28 Oct. 2016. Web. 13 June 2017.

[14] Howard, Brian Clark. "Brazil Leads World in Reducing Carbon Emissions by Slashing Deforestation." National Geographic. National Geographic Society, 25 May 2017. Web. 13 June 2017.