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The G20 and global warming confusions

By Sonny Atumah

The Group of 20 nations, G20 last week met in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on  November 30-December 1, 2018, to build consensus for fair and sustainable development through an agenda that is people-centred, inclusive and forward-looking.

The meeting looked forward to successful outcomes of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties, COP24 talks currently going on in the Polish coal city of Katowice. With calls to keep temperatures within 1.5 degrees C of pre-industrial levels the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC in October said that based on the current greenhouse gas, GHG emissions, the planet  may reach that level by 2030.

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Signatories to the Paris Agreement, who have also joined the Hamburg Action Plan, reaffirmed that the Paris Agreement is irreversible and commit to its full implementation, reflecting common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in light of different national circumstances.

Ordinarily signatories of the 2015 COP21 Paris climate agreement reaffirmed that the international accord was irreversible, being committed to its full implementation and promising to continue to tackle climate change to promote sustainable development and economic growth.

But the Communique released at the end of this G20 meeting appeared to be nonbinding to all members as the United States refused to sign the joint statement on climate change in Buenos Aires until it got its own clause inserted as: “The United States reiterated its decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, and affirmed its strong commitment to economic growth and energy access and security, utilizing all energy sources and technologies, while protecting the environment.”

When the G20 met in June 2017, in Hamburg, Germany, French President, Emmanuel Macron offered to host a One-Planet Summit in Paris, on December 12, 2017. The one-day summit of world’s political leaders and representatives of key international organizations which adopted the Paris Agreement was organized jointly by France, the United Nations and the World Bank, in partnership with the UNFCCC. They planned mobilising public and private finance to support and accelerate common efforts to fight climate change.

To do this fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) were given a death knell.  Some respected global institutions have used fossil fuel subsidies campaigns as bait for climate change.  To them it was an ecological emergency and all must fall in whether countries contribute to carbon emission or not.

But, the motive was to market their technology in renewable energy. The UK Prime Minister Theresa May preached the moral imperative for developed economies to help vulnerable countries that stand to lose most from the consequences of man-made climate change.

Might is right in the world of the powers that be, but that could not apply to President Donald Trump who apparently became a villain. Donald Trump, who in 2016, said he would renegotiate the terms of the Paris Climate Agreement switched from negotiation to cancellation and pulled the U.S. out of the global deal.

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Trump’s concern was his “America First Energy Policy.”  The America First Energy Policy is that a brighter future depends on energy policies that stimulate their economy, ensure security, and protect their health. Under the Trump Administration’s energy policies, sound energy policy begins with the recognition that America has vast untapped domestic energy reserves.

The administration has embraced the shale oil and gas revolution to bring jobs and prosperity to millions of Americans.

They are taking the advantage of the estimated US$50 trillion in untapped shale, oil, and natural gas reserves, especially those on federal lands that the American people own. It is using the revenues from energy production to rebuild roads, schools, bridges and public infrastructure and believes that less expensive energy will be a big boost to American agriculture, as well.

It is also committed to clean coal technology to revive America’s coal industry, which has been hurting for too long. In addition to being good for economy, boosting domestic energy production is in America’s national security interest. President Trump is committed to achieving energy independence from the OPEC cartel and any nations hostile to America’s interests.

Concerned Scientists data show that the first ten emitters in decreasing order are China, United States, India, Russia, Japan, Germany, South Korea, Iran, Canada, and Saudi Arabia.

Some scientists are of the view that the developed countries and major emerging economies lead in total carbon dioxide emissions and should not involve underdeveloped economies in equitable solutions. Observers believe that President Trump was under no illusions about his commitment to the American.

He has been able to bring down global oil prices that for the first time in over a decade there was traffic congestion in major US cities.

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Motorists could afford cheaper fuel for the highest Thanksgiving travel volume in more than a dozen years (since 2005). The developed countries and major emerging economies lead in total carbon dioxide emissions and should not seriously involve underdeveloped economies in equitable solutions.

The fossil fuel dependent nations should as a matter of urgency liberate themselves from the quagmire of crude oil sales and use value added linkages of petroleum to diversify their economies.

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