'Donald Trump to stress global climate accord's economic impact'
Rome, Nov 16 As US President, Donald Trump is likely to emphasise the negative effect on the US economy of an historic climate pact to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, former Italian Environment Minister Corrado Clini said on Tuesday.
"The latest and most accurate information on climate change comes from US government agencies, particularly NASA and NOAA. The data and images provided leave little doubt concerning the direct and indirect effects of the Earth's rising temperatures. This is just as obvious in the Arctic and in Greenland as it is on the Tibetan Plateau - the birthplace of rivers that carry water to over two billion people throughout Asia," Clini told Adnkronos.
"The US is the world's leading democracy and economic power and I doubt that President Trump - regardless of the questionable opinions he expressed on the supposedly political nature of climate change during his campaign - would challenge the data issued by his own country's government agencies.
"Instead, we should expect President Trump to demand insights into how the international agreements on fossil fuel divestment will impact the US economy. One of Trump's winning cards to turn the electorate in his favour was his ability to leverage the discontent and the demands of the voters who lost their jobs in part, apparently, because of America's recent environment and energy policies," he said.
"In fact, Trump's motivations are the same as the US Senate's in 2015 and are quite close to those that led to the unanimous rejection of the Kyoto Protocol in 1999, during Bill Clinton's presidency.
"And we all know that if Obama had asked the Senate to ratify the Paris Agreement, the Senate would have rejected it too. In other words, Trump is more like the child from H.C. Andersen's 'The Emperor's New Clothes' rather than some evil genius trying to undermine a worldwide climate agreement," said Clini.
"Trump is zeroing in on the Paris Agreement's economic impact, which so far has been dismissed as 'someone else's concern'," Clini said.
He was referring to the landmark deal to keep global warming "well below 2 degrees Celsius" this century adopted by almost 200 nations at a United Nations climate conference in December 2015, which came into effect on 4 November.
The Paris Agreement calls for a worldwide decrease in fossil fuel consumption, cutting its contribution to the global energy demand from 86 per cent to 50 per cent over the next 25 years.
But during the same period, according the International Energy Agency, a 35 per cent increase in the global demand for energy is expected, coming mostly from India, China, South-East Asia, South America and the Middle East.
"It is a very intricate puzzle. Trump raises an issue that concerns Europe as well as America: if we want to reduce worldwide fossil fuel consumption, then how can we offset the increased energy demand in emerging and developing economies without harming the developed economies?
"China could legitimately remind Trump and Europe that in spite of its per capita GDP being six times lower than America's and 5 times lower than G7, the country invested twice as much as the US in clean technologies in 2015 ($110 billion versus 56) and has reached a decarbonisation rate of 4 per cent, i.e. twice as much as the G7 countries.
"And let us not forget that despite the significant role of renewables and nuclear power, India's impressive growth in the next 25 years will call for a four-fold increase of coal consumption. In the context of worldwide fossil fuel divestment, how won't India's growth affect the economies of the US, Europe and Japan?" Clini said.