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US sets aside Clean Power Plan

IN 2014, the United States and China, who have been at odds with each other over many issues, came to an agreement after months of talks. US President Barack Obama and China President Xi Jinping announced in Beijing that they would both reduce their nations’ industrial carbon emissions.

The US committed to emit 26 to 28 percent less carbon in 2025 than it did in 2005. China pledged to use more clean energy sources, like solar power and windmills, so these would account for 20 percent of China’s total energy production by 2030. It was hoped that with the agreement, the US, the No. carbon polluter in the world today, and China, the No. 2, would spur other nations around the globe to make their own cuts in greenhouse gases.

The world went on to approve in 2015 the United Nations Agreement on Climate Change in Paris, France, at which each of 130 nations, including the Philippines, submitted a national plan to help realize the target of limiting the rise in global temperature to less than two degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels.

We recall this historic 2014 agreement between the US and China following the news that last Tuesday new US President Donald Trump signed an order to set aside Obama’s Clean Power Plan which required the states of the union to slash carbon emissions from their power plants by 32 percent below 2005 levels by the year 2030. Some 85 percent of the 50 US states were said to be on track to meet their targets.

But now President Trump’s order, which he issued to help the nation’s coal mining industry, puts in doubt the US ability to achieve the goal of the Clean Power Plan. It puts in doubt the commitment the US made to China in their agreement in 2014. It separates the US from the test of the world, the 130 nations which approved the Paris Agreement and pledged to make their own national contributions to the goal of slowing climate change.

We can only hope that the rest of the world’s nations – especially China – will remain true to the ideals and the goals of the Paris agreement, even if the US appears to be rejecting it. For a while, our own President Duterte had his own doubts about the agreement but he soon realized its significance to the life of this planet. He signed the Instrument of Accession on February 28 and the Senate promptly ratified the agreement.