Sat | Nov 18, 2017

Editorial | Call in Ambassador Moreno

Published:Sunday | June 4, 2017 | 12:00 AM

Almost everyone remembers a boy like Donald Trump from school. Usually, in the B-stream, he was perennially disruptive, seemingly self-assured, but seeking validation with pranks that sometimes unwittingly proved deathly dangerous.

Mr Trump is not in any classroom, or on a playing field. He is the president of the USA, which makes him the most powerful man in the world. And, as his latest prank with the Paris climate accord indicated, is potentially most dangerous.

That is why, even if we are not be able to do anything about Mr Trump's decision specifically, Daryl Vaz, who has responsibility in the Jamaican Government for such matters, is wrong about respecting it. Rather, we should disrespect the action and tell Mr Trump why.

Mr Trump may have called it "a hoax", but it is established science that climate change is real and man-made, largely from the carbon emissions human beings have put into the atmosphere since the industrial revolution, resulting in a rising of the world's temperature. Earth, on average, is hotter by nearly a full degree Centigrade over the past 140 years, with potentially devastating results for small island developing and coastal states like Jamaica.

Warmer temperatures lead to faster ice melts, rising seas, coastal erosion and, eventually, the overwhelming of low-lying areas. But countries need not wait for such eventualities to pronounce on the impact of climate change; we have experienced it with increasing erratic weather patterns, including longer droughts and unseasonal floods and their threats to life and economic infrastructure.

 

UNFAIR ACCORD

 

The December 2015 Paris climate accord, among 195 countries, represents open acceptance by the world, after years of circumlocution, that man had put the planet, and his own existence, in danger and, therefore, had to do something about it. They agreed, despite the obvious difficulty of the task, to do things to keep the rise of the world's temperature to under 2 degrees Celsius, including ensuring that the greenhouse gases the world emits are roughly equivalent to the amount that trees, soil and oceans can absorb - the so-called net-zero emissions - between 2050 and 2100.

Countries put forward voluntary targets. The United States, nominally the world's second largest polluter after China - but the largest on a per-capita basis - with 2005 as the baseline, pledged to cut its emission between 26 and 28 per cent by 2025. China undertook, by 2030, to lower its carbon emission by 60-65 per cent for each unit of gross domestic product (GDP). India, another significant developing-country polluter, promised, on the same basis, to reduce its greenhouse emissions 33-35 per cent.

Mr Trump, however, argues that the accord is unfair to the United States; that it stymied production and cost millions of jobs - an analysis that is almost universally rejected, including by rational people in the United States who envisage great prospects for the emerging green economy.

Mr Trump says he wants to renegotiate the agreement. Most of the rest of the world has already said no. Happily, too, a coalition seems to be rising in the US among states, cities, businesses, academies and civil society to, insofar as they can, fulfil America's obligation under the accord.

Clearly, Donald Trump is an outlier on climate change who should listen to French President Emmanuel Macron's plea that he help "make the planet great again". With regard to Jamaica, America's ambassador, Luis Moreno, must be called in to the foreign ministry for a lecture and a note on how Donald Trump is endangering this country.