Trump administration begins Paris climate pact exit

The Trump administration has formally notified the United Nations that it will withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement, the first formal step in a one-year process to exit the global pact to fight climate change, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed on Monday. (Reuters)
Updated 05 November 2019

Trump administration begins Paris climate pact exit

WASHINGTON: The Trump administration said on Monday it filed paperwork to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement, the first formal step in a one-year process to exit the global pact to fight climate change.
The move is part of a broader strategy by President Donald Trump to reduce red tape on American industry, but comes at a time scientists and many world governments urge rapid action to avoid the worst impacts of global warming.
Once it exits, the United States — the top historic greenhouse gas emitter and leading oil and gas producer — will become the only country outside the accord.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed the step in a Twitter post on Monday and pointed out that the United States had trimmed its emissions https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/inventory-us-greenhouse-gas-emissions-a... in recent years even as it had grown its energy production.
“The US is proud of our record as a world leader in reducing all emissions, fostering resilience, growing our economy, and ensuring energy for our citizens,” he said.
An official from the French presidential office accompanying President Emmanuel Macron on a state visit to China, said: “We regret this and this only makes the Franco-Chinese partnership on the climate and biodiversity more necessary.”
Macron and Chinese President Xi Jinping will sign a pact on Wednesday that includes a paragraph on the “irreversibility of the Paris Agreement,” the official said.
The State Department’s letter to United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres starts the clock on a process that will be complete one day after the 2020 US presidential election.
All the top Democratic presidential contenders seeking to unseat Trump have promised to re-engage in the Paris Agreement if they win. But the withdrawal could leave a lasting mark, said Andrew Light, a senior fellow at the World Resources Institute and former adviser to the US climate envoy under Democratic President Barack Obama.
“While it serves the political needs of the Trump administration, we will lose a lot of traction with respect to US influence globally,” he said.
The Obama administration had signed the United States onto the 2015 pact, promising a 26-28% cut in US greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 from 2005 levels.
Trump campaigned on a promise to rescind that pledge, saying it would hurt the US economy while leaving other big polluters like China to increase emissions. He was bound by UN rules to wait until Nov. 4, 2019, to file exit papers.
Trump has already moved, however, to unwind a slew of Obama-era rules limiting emissions — including from the electricity industry, automobiles and the oil and gas drilling sector. A report this year by state attorneys general said those rollbacks https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-climatechange-trump/trump-climate... could amount to a boost in US carbon emissions of more than 200 million tons a year by 2025.
Teresa Ribera, Spain’s environment minister, said on Twitter that the formal withdrawal — although expected — dealt a blow to the Paris deal. Spain will host the next round of climate negotiations in place of Chile in early December.
“I deeply regret this decision, which, no matter how it was announced, is no less worrying,” she wrote.

STATE, LOCAL ACTION
Environmental groups also slammed the move.
“The next president will need to rejoin the accord immediately and commit to the rapid, wholesale clean-energy transformation the climate emergency demands,” said Jean Su, energy director with the Center for Biological Diversity.
A report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said last year the world had little over a decade to rapidly reduce emissions from fossil fuels use to keep global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees F).
Beyond that warming threshold, the planet becomes more likely to see dramatic cascading effects of climate change, from sea-level rise to more frequent intense storms, droughts, floods and heat waves, according to the report.
In the absence of US federal leadership on climate change, several Democratic states and municipal governments have sought to apply their own regulations curbing emissions and promoting renewable energy sources such as solar and wind.
Alden Meyer, director of policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said states, cities and businesses representing more than half of the US gross domestic product and population remained committed to the Paris Agreement’s goals.
“Unlike the president, these leaders understand that reducing emissions creates jobs and protects local communities, while it is inaction on climate that poses the real threat to prosperity,” he said.
Until its formal exit, the United States will continue to participate in negotiations over technical aspects of the agreement, represented by career State Department officials.
The United States and China, the world’s two largest carbon emitters, have recently been leading negotiations of the Paris “rule book” that outlines transparency and reporting rules.


Hong Kong police warn of ‘live fire’ if they face deadly weapons from protesters

Updated 17 November 2019

Hong Kong police warn of ‘live fire’ if they face deadly weapons from protesters

  • Protests have tremored through the global financial hub since June
  • China has repeatedly warned that it will not tolerate the dissent

HONG KONG: Hong Kong police Monday warned for the first time that they may use “live rounds” after pro-democracy protesters fired arrows and threw petrol bombs at officers at a beseiged university campus, as the crisis engulfing the city veered deeper into danger.
Protests have tremored through the global financial hub since June, with many in the city of 7.5 million people venting fury at eroding freedoms under Chinese rule.
China has repeatedly warned that it will not tolerate the dissent, and there have been concerns that Beijing could send in troops to put an end to the spiralling unrest.
Three protesters have been shot by armed police in the unrelenting months of protests. But all in scuffles as chaotic street clashes played out — and without such warnings being given.
A day of intense clashes, which saw a police officer struck in the leg by an arrow and protesters meet police tear gas with volleys of petrol bombs, intensified as night fell.
Clashes rolled across Kowloon, with the epicenter around the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU), where scores of defiant demonstrators set large fires to prevent police from conducting a threatened raid on the campus.
They hunkered down under umbrellas from occasional fire from water cannon and hurled molotov cocktails at an armored police vehicle, leaving it ablaze on a flyover near the campus.
Police declared the campus a “riot” scene — a rioting conviction carries up to 10 years in jail — and blocked exits as spokesman Louis Lau issued a stark warning in a Facebook live broadcast.
“I hereby warn rioters not to use petrol bombs, arrows, cars or any deadly weapons to attack police officers,” he said.
“If they continue such dangerous actions, we would have no choice but to use the minimum force necessary, including live rounds, to fire back.”
Police said they fired at a car late Sunday that had driven at a line of officers near the campus — but the vehicle reversed and escaped.
Protesters at the campus appeared resolute — a twist in tactics by a leaderless movement so far defined by its fluid, unpredictable nature.
“I feel scared. There’s no way out, all I can do is fight to the end,” said one protester joining the barricade in front of the university building.
“We need a base to keep our gear and have some rest at night before another fight in the morning,” another called Kason, 23, told AFP.
On Sunday, activists parried attempts by police to break through into the PolyU campus, firing rocks from a homemade catapult from the university roof, while an AFP reporter saw a team of masked archers — several carrying sports bows — patrolling the campus.
Violence has worsened in recent days, with two men killed in separate incidents linked to the protests this month.
Chinese President Xi Jinping this week issued his most strident comments on the crisis, saying it threatened the “one country, two systems” model under which Hong Kong has been ruled since the 1997 handover from Britain.
Demonstrators last week engineered a “Blossom Everywhere” campaign of blockades and vandalism, which forced the police to draft in prison officers as reinforcements, shut down large chunks of Hong Kong’s train network and close schools and shopping malls.
The movement, characterised by its fluidity and unpredictability, has started to coagulate in fixed locations, showing the protesters’ ability to switch tactics.
The protests started against a now-shelved bill to allow extradition to China but have billowed to encompass wider issues such as perceived police brutality and calls for universal suffrage in the former British colony.
The financial hub has been nudged into a recession by the unrelenting turmoil.
A poster circulating on social media called for the “dawn action” to continue on Monday.
“Get up early, directly target the regime, squeeze the economy to increase pressure,” it said.
The education bureau said schools will remain closed again on Monday.
Earlier on Sunday, dozens of government supporters gathered to clear barricades near the university campus — a sign of the divisions slicing through the city.
Many residents are wearied by the sapping protests. Others support the Chinese-backed city government.
Some applauded a Saturday clean-up by Chinese troops from a garrison of the People’s Liberation Army in Kowloon.
The garrison is usually confined to the barracks under Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, although it can be deployed at the request of the city’s government to help with public order breakdown or natural disasters.
Hong Kong’s government, which presides over a city that enjoys greater freedoms than the mainland, said it did not ask the PLA for help on Saturday.
The choreographed troop movement “has only compounded the impression that Beijing has simply ignored” Hong Kong’s unique political system, said analyst Dixon Sing.