COP24: Americans make light of climate-change denier Trump, pledge support for Paris pact

M. Ramesh | | Updated on: Dec 13, 2018
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The COP24, seeks to finalise the implementation process of the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

In the mass of multinational humanity floating around the COP24 venue, you can mostly tell who the Americans are. Many of them sport a coat-pin bearing the legend: We are still in.

The message that Americans are trying to reiterate is that Trump may pull the US out of the Paris agreement, but America’s citizens are still in.

The Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, or COP24, seeks to finalise the implementation process of the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

Clear direction

“There is a lot going on in the US even on a policy basis, not just in the White House,” says Aron Cramer, President and CEO of BSR, a global nonprofit that advises companies on sustainable strategies. “Things have really moved and there is very little doubt that whatever be the ideological opposition in the US, Brazil and Australia, the direction of travel is quite clear,” he told BusinessLine .

Cramer’s comments come in the context of the discordant pro-coal event held here by the official US delegation.

There are many illustrations offered to support the point that America is not off-board. For instance, some 500 companies are part of the Science Based Targets initiative, and the number is expected to double in a year. The initiative, a collaboration of UN Global Compact, World Resources Institute, WWF and CDP, encourages companies to boost their competitive advantage, while reducing their greenhouse gas footprint.

Many such initiatives are springing up because the US has already been hit by climate change. Americans recall how Hurricane Harvey mauled Houston and how, in California, 13 of the 20 most destructive forest fires in the state’s history happened in the last 14 months. California Governor Jerry Brown has declared that the state will be carbon neutral by 2045.

“The idea of rising sea waters is no longer abstract. People’s shoes are getting wet,” observes Kevin Rabinovitch, Global Vice-President – Sustainability, at Mars, a $35-billion company that makes chocolates and animal foods.

Cramer and Rabinovitch note that property prices in coastal California are falling. Investors who put money in such properties are finding that they will soon be “under water, both financially and literally,” says Cramer.

With such threats looming over the US, state governments, city administration, companies and even individuals have all involved themselves in the movement to fight climate change.

Brazil too

Brazil’s case is similar. President-elect Jair Bolsonaro is a climate-denier and might pull the country out of the Paris accord. The Brazilian Business Council for Sustainable Development, however, is present at the COP24 to tell the world about “the efforts of the country’s business sector” to contribute to the country’s commitments at Paris.

“It is possible to reduce the GHG emissions at lower costs in Brazil than in other countries,” says Marina Grossi, who leads the Council delegation.

The writer is in Poland at the invitation of the Global Editors Network

Published on December 13, 2018

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