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Michael Jansen: Climate holocaust
August 11, 2017
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It is high time the international community imposed punitive sanctions on the US, the planet’s most dangerous rogue state. The US has done and is doing great harm to the globe’s 7.5 billion people and to future generations. Without being targeted the US imposes — and insists others join — hundreds of economic sanctions on countries, individuals, firms, banks, and other organisations.  

 The last straw should be the Trump administration’s announcement that it would soon withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change, which former President Barack Obama had signed in 2016 on behalf of the US. Candidate Donald Trump vowed to take this action if he moved into the White House and has made good on this promise. He insists “global warming was created by and for the Chinese to make US manufacturing non-competitive.”

The accord has 195 signatories and came into effect on Nov. 4th, 2016. The State Department formally notified the UN in write of the US decision to pull out but, typically, for Trump, confused everyone by saying the US plans to continue taking part in international meetings and negotiations on climate change agreements. The Department’s statement said Trump is “open to re-engaging in the Paris Agreement if the United States can identify terms that are more favourable to it, its business, its workers, its people and its taxpayers.” This is an aspect of Trump’s “America First” policy: the world be damned.

  Meanwhile, the US might as well continue involvement as, under the terms of the deal, Trump cannot withdraw legally until Nov. 4th, 2019, three years after the accord came into effect, and the US cannot actually pull out until Nov. 20th, 2020. If Trump is succeeded by someone intelligent and enlightened on climate change, he or she can rejoin the agreement on February 19th, 2021, 30 days after inauguration.

 Nevertheless, the Trump threat hangs over the accord and the campaign to change the world’s behaviour by cutting dependence on fossil fuels with the aim of preventing a climate holocaust. The formal notification of the Trump administration’s intention coincided with heat waves and wildfires on the US West Coast, Canada and in southern Europe and publication of a report by European Commission scientists saying climate change could kill 150,000 people a year in Europe by 2100. Victims would succumb to heatstroke, heart attacks, and breathing difficulties. Flash flooding and droughts would produce food shortages, causing malnutrition and putting people in jeopardy of being killed by disease and infection. The incidence of fires which annually rage across the US, Canada, Greece, France, Italy, Spain, Cyprus, and Lebanon will increase, wiping out homes, farms, wooded areas, even entire towns and cities.  

  This report should awaken the US to the dangers of carrying on as usual while the globe warms. Instead, Trump continues to defy the other 194 signatories and opt for protecting producers and consumers of fossil fuels that pollute the atmosphere and cause climate change. The US, the climate-change denying Republican party and ignorant Trump have gone too far for the world to ignore the risks that country poses. The US commitment to leave could prompt others to drop out or revise their pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions. This would negate the effort to save the planet from man-made disaster.

 The New York Times quoted former Kenyan herdsman, Muhammad Adaw, currently employed by Christian Aid to work on climate issues, as saying, “It is immoral. The countries that have done the least to cause the problem are suffering first and worst.” He meant the main victims are developing countries which are victimised by the pollution caused by the process of industrialisation and current industries and lifestyles in the developed US and Europe.

 Former US President Barack Obama had pledged to cut that country’s greenhouse gas emissions by 28 per cent from 2005 levels by 2025. This is hardly a dramatic commitment made by a president under pressure from US climate-change deniers in Congress and the regressive public. Instead of wasting time protecting fossil fuels, the US must invest heavily in green energy technology such as wind, solar, and wave power. Until Trump took office it had been hoped the US government would prioritise such investment but he is determined to cut government spending.

This could prompt private investors to lose interest in renewables. Obama had also promised $3 billion (Dhs11.02b)to a fund established to mitigate impact of climate change on the most vulnerable countries but he had paid out only $1b (Dhs3.67b) before he left office. Trump is expected to cancel this funding.

 The US is the second largest emitter of carbon dioxide, China the first, the European Union the third, India the fourth and Russia the fifth. China and Europe are making serious efforts to cut emissions. The US is historically the largest global polluter due to its heavy reliance on petrol engine vehicles, large houses, air conditioners and other equipment.   

 Sanctioning Trump personally would be easy: his hotels, golf clubs, and other properties outside the US could be boycotted by the public or seized by governments until he not only relents but also renews legislation regulating toxic and polluting emissions. For Trump, money talks rather than climate change science. He could also be barred from making official visits abroad and shunned. For a man who loves the limelight and media attention, this would be apt punishment. 

 Members of his administration and Congress could be sanctioned and isolated while US exports could suffer, hitting the jobs of the workers Trump claims he wants to save. This would, of course, be a drastic policy which would require unity on the part of key world leaders, particularly in Europe where the European Union could make an effort to forge a consensus. If Europe were to take action, Asia, Africa, the countries of the Americas, and Australasia could be pressured to follow. By striking out at Trump, 194 Paris Accord signatories could save the world.
The author, a well-respected observer of Middle East
affairs, has three books on the Arab-Israeli conflict

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