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25 April 2017 Question Bank


25th APRIL 2017


(1 Question)

Answer questions in NOT MORE than 200 words each. Content of the answer is more important than its length.

Links are provided for reference. You can also use the Internet fruitfully to further enhance and strengthen your answers.



1. The Paris accord requires vigilance by all global actors in view of the U.S.'s changed stance on climate change. Comment.


Climate Change:

  • Several recent extreme events such as wildfires, droughts, severe heatwaves and cyclones in India and other places have a clear signature of a changing climate, but in many cases these are exacerbated by other institutional failures.
  • None of this has, however, persuaded the present U.S. government that anthropogenic greenhouse gases (GHGs) are responsible for climate change.
  • The U.S. is still the world's second largest annual emitter of GHGs and has generated more than a quarter of the total anthropogenic GHGs in the atmosphere since 1850.

Effect of Trump's actions

  • Mr. Trump's orders not only directed federal agencies to cancel or amend policies that might interfere with domestic energy production, but also slashed research budgets for climate change.
  • Mr. Trump ordered to eliminate the curbs on power plant emissions by the Obama administration - Clean Power Plan (CPP) - 2hat aimed at reducing the power sector's carbon dioxide emissions by about a third below the 2005 levels by 2030.
  • The regulations would require states and electric utilities to reduce emissions either by deploying renewables, reducing demand or increasing power plant efficiencies.
  • In any case, the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) CPP has been in the courts for more than a year due to a legal challenge mounted by over half the U.S. states and a number of companies that opposed the rule.
  • Nevertheless, even if Mr. Trump's order to eliminate the CPP were to go into effect, his administration is required by a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court ruling to regulate carbon dioxide.
  • Moreover, the EPA's rules are themselves not easy to reverse by a stroke of the presidential pen, especially given another 2009 EPA finding that GHGs "threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations".

Consequences for Paris Agreement:

  • The recent moves by US President are a clear signal that the U.S. is no longer interested in curbing GHGs to stabilise the climate and neither is it keen to meet its Paris commitments.
  • Mr. Trump's actions also demonstrate that allowing countries to write their own Nationally Determined Contributions, seen as an improvement to a global top-down approach, still has to confront the same political problem - continued implementation of the agreement by successive governments within each country.
  • That a major emitter is retreating from its former commitments is of course a danger to the world's climate, but this may not be a big step back if other countries persist with their efforts and if renewables continue to get more affordable as they have recently.

Role of sub-national actors:

  • Nation states are the proper agencies responsible for curbing emissions to the shared global commons.
  • Global agreements are often tenuous and need support and pressure from other actors within and across countries who function at many levels: states, territories or provinces within a country, cities, policy think tanks, scientists, philanthropists, local communities, civil society organisations, investors, transnational groups and multinational industries.
  • For example, the now global movement created by350.org in 2007 and other climate protection advocacy groups in Europe and elsewhere has made impressive progress on many fronts.
  • The regional commitments to reducing GHGs by states in large parts of the U.S., the philanthropies that are supporting improvements in efficiencies and innovations in the climate and energy sector, and cities such as New York and Seattle, which are committed to building a low-carbon future, are all examples of sub-national entities that have a powerful influence.
  • Climate change, like democracy itself, requires vigilance and participation by both state and non-state actors.

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