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How Trump Is Ensuring That Greenhouse Gas Emissions Will Rise

Category: Science,Science & Tech

Experts say a rise in methane emissions is an inevitable consequence of Mr. Trump’s rollbacks.

“I don’t think there’s any question that dumping the venting-and-flaring rule is causing increases in emissions,” said David J. Hayes, a former deputy secretary of the interior during the Clinton and Obama administrations.

Finally, there is the Trump administration’s vow to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, a voluntary accord under which nearly every country in the world has agreed to reduce emissions.

President Barack Obama pledged the United States would cut carbon at least 26 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. The Trump administration cannot formally withdraw from the Paris pact for two more years, but in rolling back key climate regulations it has effectively stopped all efforts to meet that goal.

But the United States’ role in the Paris Agreement was never just about driving down America’s own emissions. It was also about using its leadership to prod major developing countries like China, India and Brazil to also reduce their emissions despite still climbing out of poverty. Those countries, under United Nations rules agreed to by the United States in the 1990s, also are not legally obligated to cut carbon because of their status as developing nations.

“When the U.S. is not taking action on climate it makes it incredibly difficult for countries with lesser means than ours to take action themselves,” said Richard G. Newell, president of Resources for the Future, a nonpartisan Washington-based research organization.

Already Mr. Trump’s actions seem to be reverberating in rich and poor countries alike. Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, has threatened to pull out of the Paris Agreement. His conservative government has since said it will honor its pledges, but the country’s energy policy contains no plans for curbing emissions.

In Brazil, the far-right populist President-elect Jair Bolsonaro campaigned on a vow of pulling out of the Paris Agreement.

China, on the other hand, has worked to position itself as the new leader on climate change.

Countries will meet in December in Katowice, the heart of Poland’s coal country, to finalize a set of rules for implementing the Paris Agreement. The United States will attend the talks and, despite the intended rollbacks, is expected to push other countries to be more transparent about their own plans for cutting emissions.

For more news on climate and the environment, follow @NYTClimate on Twitter.


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