CIWM slams Trump’s decision to pull US out of Paris Climate Change Agreement

Written by: Editorial staff | Published:

Dr Colin Church, CEO of the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM), has joined other industry leaders in condemning President Donald Trump’s announcement that the United States will withdraw from the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

“Action on some of the world’s most pressing environment issues – climate change, plastics in the ocean, and air quality to name but a few – requires collective and collaborative approaches. It is therefore deeply disappointing to hear that the US is withdrawing from the Paris Agreement. We can take some comfort from the commitment from many US businesses and local and state governments to continue efforts to tackle climate change, and it is to be hoped that the US’ decision does not erode the determination of the other signatories to press ahead,” stated CIWM’s chief executive.

“For the UK, CIWM has already signalled what is needed from the next government to ensure that the resource and waste management sector can play its fullest role in delivering a more sustainable future. That is to ensure that current environmental standards are maintained and the UK continues to show ambition on delivering clean growth, to embed better resource productivity and efficiency as a cross-cutting priority in all relevant policy areas, and to provide a clear and stable future policy direction to 2030 and beyond, taking account of the development of the EU Circular Economy framework.”

Time for governments to affirm commitment to Paris agreement

Echoing Dr Church’s views, Michelle Hubert, CBI head of energy and infrastructure, said: "The Paris Agreement is a climate deal agreed by the world's leaders that puts us on a sustainable low-carbon path and which can provide the framework for business to invest with confidence.

“It’s disappointing that President Trump has signalled his intention to withdraw the United States from the Agreement, but now is the time for governments to affirm their commitment to it by turning global ambition into national reality. By investing and innovating, British businesses will be at the heart of delivering a low-carbon economy, and will want to see domestic policies that demonstrate commitment to this goal.

“As other nations start to play a greater role and increase their ambition, the UK needs a level playing field for carbon costs, so that our energy intensive industries can compete effectively in a global, low-carbon marketplace,” continued Hubert.

Trump's "dangerous actions"

Antonis Mavropoulos, president of the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) made it clear that "ISWA stands with all the industry and political leaders who have spoken out against Donald Trump's dangerous actions".

Mavropoulos said: "The message for all of us is clear. ISWA will work harder to ensure that the Paris Accord, as a minimum measure to avoid the planet’s catastrophe, will stay on track. We will work more intensively to close the world's biggest dumpsites and ensure that this will result in substantial reduction of CO2 emissions. We will continue to demonstrate that integrated sustainable waste management is a key-contribution to climate change mitigation efforts, and a cornerstone of the sustainable development goals. ISWA will insist to transform the waste sector, worldwide, to a net CO2 saver, as the evolution of the waste sector in Europe has already highlighted.

"We should never allow science to be defeated by fake news. We cannot afford a revenge of Middle Ages against Renaissance”, emphasised the ISWA president.

Cutting carbon emissions

Nick Molho, executive director of the Aldersgate Group, an alliance of leaders from business, politics and civil society whose aim is to drive action for a sustainable economy, said: “Donald Trump’s decision won’t result in a U-turn on climate action in the US or globally. Several US states have made clear commitments to continue investing in low carbon technologies and major US businesses such as Walmart have set ambitious targets to cut carbon emissions and increase the use of renewable energy.

"Globally, the shift to a more efficient, low carbon economy is gathering pace, the cost of clean technologies is rapidly falling and coal use in China and India is slowing faster than anticipated. Over $240bn was invested in record levels of renewable energy capacity in 2016, 40% of which was driven by developing economies including China, India, and Brazil," continued Molho.

"Following the commitments made by six world leaders at the recent G7 summit and the news of greater co-operation between China and the EU on climate change, major global players like the UK must continue to build competitive, low carbon economies and honour their commitments under the Paris Agreement.”

Flexible framework

European chemical CEOs publicly backed a strong global climate change agreement and applauded diplomatic efforts to achieve an ambitious and globally-binding agreement. According to Cefic, the EU chemical industry council: “We believe the Paris agreement gives us the flexible framework to manage climate change while providing a smooth transition for business. Global competitiveness can best be achieved with the US remaining in the Paris agreement."

Paris Agreement Fact File (courtesy of European Commission website)

At the Paris climate conference (COP21) in December 2015, 195 countries adopted the first-ever universal, legally binding global climate deal.

The agreement sets out a global action plan to put the world on track to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2°C.

Key elements

The Paris Agreement is a bridge between today's policies and climate-neutrality before the end of the century.

Mitigation: reducing emissions

Governments agreed

  • a long-term goal of keeping the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels;
  • to aim to limit the increase to 1.5°C, since this would significantly reduce risks and the impacts of climate change;
  • on the need for global emissions to peak as soon as possible, recognising that this will take longer for developing countries;
  • to undertake rapid reductions thereafter in accordance with the best available science.

Before and during the Paris conference, countries submitted comprehensive national climate action plans (INDCs). According to the EU, these are not yet enough to keep global warming below 2°C, but the agreement traces the way to achieving this target.

Transparency and global stocktake

Governments agreed to

  • come together every five years to set more ambitious targets as required by science;
  • report to each other and the public on how well they are doing to implement their targets;
  • track progress towards the long-term goal through a robust transparency and accountability system.

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