Protesters hold up signs during a demonstration in front of the White House in Washington, DC on June 1, 2017. // AFP PHOTO
Protesters hold up signs during a demonstration in front of the White House in Washington, DC on June 1, 2017. // AFP PHOTO

US exit ‘won’t deter world’

national June 03, 2017 01:00

By Pratch Rujivanarom,
Wichit Chaitrong
The Nation

Thailand remains committed to goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent by 2020; Al Gore calls Trump move threat to humanity, says no one can stop clean energy revolution



THE withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Agreement will not have a significant impact on efforts to maintain greenhouse gas emissions and prevent runaway global warming, Thai academics, NGOs and the business sector said yesterday.

They said that as climate change mitigation and clean energy have already become a global trend, US President Donald Trump’s decision will spur the rest of the world to enforce their efforts to fight against climate change.

Trump triggered a furious global backlash on Thursday (yesterday Thailand time) when he announced that his administration would immediately stop implementing the “bad” 195-nation accord, which was brokered by his predecessor Barack Obama in 2015 in tandem with Chinese leaders.

The EU and China moved yesterday to fill the leadership void on the pact.

In what could turn into a global diplomatic realignment, the European Union and China held summit talks that EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker said could be a signal to the world.

“There is no reverse gear to the energy transition, there is no backsliding on the Paris Agreement,” Juncker said, as he opened trade and climate talks with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Brussels.

In his speech, Li warned that the world would become “a jungle” without multilateral rules, though he did not mention the Paris pact specifically.

Al Gore, the former US vice president and leading climate change environmentalist, condemned the act by Trump as reckless and indefensible action, but the move cannot stop a transition to a clean energy economy, he said, as the majority of the people will still continue efforts to tackle climate change.

“It undermines America’s standing in the world and threatens to damage humanity’s ability to solve the climate crisis in time. But make no mistake, if President Trump won’t lead, the American people will,” Gore said. “We are in the middle of a clean energy revolution that no single person or group can stop. President Trump’s decision is profoundly in conflict with what the majority of Americans want from our president; but no matter what he does, we will ensure that our inevitable transition to a clean energy economy continues.”

Fossil fuel industry may profit

Thammasat University Faculty of Economics lecturer Pracha Koonnathamdee said he was not surprised by the US pull-out, because Trump did not have environmental awareness and knowledge about climate change. He said, however, that his intention to reverse the global trend would not have much impact on the climate mitigation operation driven by the Paris Agreement.

“I don’t think the withdrawal of the US from the Paris Agreement will influence the effort of other nations to decrease greenhouse gas emissions, because the commitment to the Paris Agreement is voluntary by the country to set a goal for slashing greenhouse gas emission in their homeland,” Pracha said.

“In Thailand, the Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning Office and Greenhouse Gas Management Organisation are still working actively to achieve Thailand’s goal to decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent in 2020.”

He also said that Europe will replace the US as the leader in the fight against climate change and efforts would continue.

Foundation for Ecological Recovery coordinator Montri Chantawong, said that even though Trump had removed the US from the Paris Agreement, the majority of American people and the global population would continue the fight against global warming.

“His stance is surely having an impact on the global scale and the fossil fuel industry may use this chance to make a profit for their business. However, I still have hopes that we can transition to a carbon-free society as the world is changing now,” Montri said.

Pipat Yodprudtikan, director of Thaipat Institute which is promoting a sustainable development among listed companies, said Trump’s move would have a psychological impact but other countries would move on to address climate change.

Pipat said that in Thailand, private companies are starting to incorporate sustainable development into their business model, for example Bangchak Corporation, an energy company, has launched a green energy project. 

He said it would take time before collaboration among many parties reach a critical level.