Jade Powers: The "Mood Change" Caused by the United States' Decision About the Paris Agreement
Day one of COP23 has concluded, and already so much taken place. Upon arrival, I was surely not alone in being curious about how other countries will respond to the recent decision made by the Trump Administration about withdrawing from the Paris Agreement. We all know that President Trump is a huge advocate for coal and oil industries, but taking the United States out of the Paris Agreement has proved to be a bit rash. The Paris Agreement is an initiative that allows countries to come to a consensus about what action each individual country needs to take in order to reduce global emissions. In the words of the COP22 president pertaining to this agreement, "Look into the future, we need to act fast...no need for show of force, we only need to show commitment for future action." This statement was made during the opening ceremony at COP23, and set the tone for the rest of the conference.
The Paris Agreement offers a joint vision for all those involved. However, for this vision to be effective, all countries that are a part of the agreement must show their support and focus toward the goal. During a press conference that my colleagues and I attended -- Diffused Leadership and The Paris Agreement: The India Story -- we heard the insight from members of the CEEW (Council on Energy, Environment and Water) about their thoughts about the U.S and the action taken concerning the Paris Agreement. This was the "India Story" because as one of the larger contributors to carbon emissions, along with China and America, the withdraw made by the U.S. is quite concerning. Even if India and China dramatically released their carbon emissions to practically nothing, if the U.S. doesn't take any action to reduce emissions, the goal of keeping global temperatures below 2 degrees will be next to impossible. Thus, the lack of action that might be taken by America is troubling to other large powers such as India and China. The CEO of CEEW, Arunabha Ghosh stated, "after the U.S. withdraw from the Paris Agreement, there has been a mood change in Bonn." After which, I asked the question, what is this 'mood change' that you are referring to exactly? (refer to 9:35 in video below) Ghosh responded by explaining how since the United States is such a large power, the choice to withdraw has created a lack of trust. The Paris Agreement must be an enforceable agreement with no loose ends, this means that each country has confidence in the other cosigners in regards to holding true to the pledge of taking action towards mitigating climate change. On a lighter note, although the U.S. has withdrawn, individual states and cities in America have held true to their pledge and still honor the agreement. This gives hope that even though the federal government may have made a poor decision, there is still a chance that small local governments can honor the pledge that the United States originally made when signing the Paris Agreement at COP21.