McCarthy continued: “Several things have changed in the half-decade since the agreement was set, including studies demonstrating clearer linkages between greenhouse gas accumulation in the atmosphere and disruptive climate; analyses have projected increased difficulty in avoiding costly climate impacts if progress in reducing emissions is not accelerated; and while youth interests in many nations are pushing for more aggressive efforts to slow climate change, President Trump is attempting to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement.
“Some other recently elected national leaders have suggested that they may do the same. The public needs to know the global implications of such actions.”
Scott Barrett, professor of natural resource economics at Columbia University, who did not work on the report, told Newsweek: “It is impossible to stabilize the temperature so long as emissions are increasing. Actually, to stabilize temperature, global emissions need to fall. To keep temperature well below 2 C, global emissions should start falling very soon, and fall rapidly.”
Barrett co-authored a 2016 study suggesting the “naming and shaming” approach used to encourage countries to stick to their voluntary pledges was unlikely to be a strong enough motivator.
He argued the tide of nationalism and self-interest in politics that has emerged in the past five years presents more obstacles for keeping average global temperature rises below 2 C.
Barrett argued Trump’s plan to withdraw from the agreement “was symbolic because he could have simply altered the pledges made by the U.S. rather than withdraw from Paris. But he wanted to send a signal that the U.S. wasn’t interested in multilateral approaches for addressing common problems.”
“A consequence of this position is that it takes the wind out of the sails of the countries that were willing to act in the collective interest. The move has real and harmful consequences for the U.S. and for the world,” he said.
Barrett explained: “The idea behind Paris and agreements like it is that if all countries only pursue their national self-interests, the outcome will be bad for everyone.
“What every country needs truly to advance its own interests is for all countries to limit emissions.
“For 75 years, the world has needed U.S. leadership to achieve great things together. That leadership has been withdrawn,” said Barrett.
However, rather than complaining about the agreement, Barrett continued said it would be more productive to supplement it with others which have a better chance of causing emissions to fall worldwide. He pointed to the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol designed to stop the powerful greenhouse gas hydrofluorocarbon being released.
Asked whether the onus lies with individuals to tackle climate change, for instance by keeping their carbon footprint low, McCarthy said: “We can all take action in our daily lives to strive for more efficient use of energy resources and choose when we can renewable energy.
“But we must demand that our leaders make these choices more available to us by terminating subsidies for oil and gas and by increasing the production and distribution of low emission sources of energy, plus requiring that manufacturers and builders meet more stringent emission standards,” he said.
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