29 march 2017

Todd Stern, global diplomats slam Trump EO

Jean Chemnick, E&E News reporter, ClimateWire, March 29, 2017

The Paris Agreement wasn't part of President Trump's climate change purge yesterday, but architects of the 2015 deal said the United States will live to regret gutting its domestic programs.

"This is reckless, arrogant policy that ignores the safety and well-being of our country and our children," said former Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern, who helped broker the 2015 accord.

Former U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres said jettisoning U.S. EPA's Clean Power Plan and other greenhouse gas-cutting measures that formed the background of President Obama's commitment to Paris would place the United States on the "back foot at a time when most Americans are looking to lead."

"Trying to make fossil fuels remain competitive in the face of a booming clean renewable power sector, with the clean air and plentiful jobs it continues to generate, is going against the flow of economics," she said in a statement.

But Figueres, who helped broker the agreement of 196 nations and now heads the advocacy collaborative Mission2020, said she was "optimistic that Paris will endure." She also predicted Americans would protest "any proposed weakening" of climate efforts.

Laurence Tubiana, who served as France's official climate "champion" during the Paris summit and throughout 2016, said Trump appeared to be swapping long-term U.S. interests for "a few political points from a narrow interest group."

But she predicted that the electricity-sector rule rollback would spend years locked in litigation, while Trump's assault on environmental standards would galvanize support for new actions in the United States and abroad.

"There are countless countries ready to step up and deliver on their climate promises and take advantage of Mr. Trump's short-termism to reap the benefits of the transition to the low carbon economy," she said.

Europe forges ahead with China

Yesterday's regulatory spring cleaning did not even mention the Paris Agreement. Rather, it rolled back the broader Climate Action Plan that provided the underpinning for Obama's pledge to cut emissions between 26 and 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. And the "skinny budget" the Trump White House unveiled earlier in March would ensure that the United States does not contribute climate aid dollars.

Stern called this a "bad bet."

"Even a skeptic should support an insurance policy, but they say no," he said.

Climate-vulnerable nations pushed back against Trump's actions, which could hobble the agreement they hope will help protect their homes from sea-level rise and other dangers.

Thoriq Ibrahim, environment and energy minister for the Maldives and chairman of the Alliance of Small Island States negotiating group, hinted lightly in a statement that the power plan rule would not have harmed U.S. economic interests.

"Numerous countries, including many of our members, have found that renewable energy is not only cost effective, it outperforms fossil fuels and carries many co-benefits, such as energy independence and improved public health," he said. "We think policies that advance these goals deserve a second look and would welcome an opportunity to explore how we can all work to simultaneously implement the climate change agreement and achieve robust economic growth."

European climate commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete � who, with small islands, Obama's State Departmennt and other parties, made up the high-ambition coalition during the Paris summit � unveiled new bilateral develoopments with China yesterday.

"Others may roll back, but EU and China will forge ahead with the #ParisAgreement and the clean energy transition," he tweeted during a trip to Beijing, where he met with China's special representative on climate change, Xie Zhenhua.

The European Union and China have said they're interested in filling the climate leadership void created by a shift in U.S. domestic policy. The two entities both have emissions trading schemes and are looking at ways to cooperate on them.

But while Trump's move drew jeers from many participants in the Paris process, former Saudi Arabian negotiator Mohammad Al-Sabban, who in the years before Paris was often criticized for slow-walking negotiations, applauded the Trump administration's less aggressive stance. He said in a Twitter post that petroleum-producing nations stand with the United States, which is "practically freezing work [on the] climate agreement lie."

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