U.S. impedes global environment governance, threatens global ecological security

The U.S. officially kicked off the process to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on Nov. 4, 2019, and according to relevant regulations, the country became first and only nation among the 189 countries that have joined it to quit the accord on Nov. 4 this year.

This is a disrepute that sounds an alarm for the international society.

The Paris Agreement is considered as a shining pearl among the major multilateral achievements in recent years, and symbols the wide international consensus on global climate governance problems. The U.S. is the world’s largest emitter in history that has discharged the most greenhouse gases. As a major country, it shall be responsible, not to say its fossil fuel emissions per capita were 14.6 tons in 2017, 3.3 times of the global average.

However, the country repeatedly refused to shoulder its responsibilities. It not ratified the Kyoto Protocol and has now withdrawn from the Paris Agreement, denying its own binding quantified emission reduction obligations. It has completely digressed from the global system and arrangements, and seriously impeded global emission reduction and green and low-carbon development.

It seems that some U.S. politicians don’t care at all about whether their country is credible on climate and environment issues. As a contracting party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the country delayed its progress of greenhouse gas reduction, refusing to fulfill its promise to reduce emissions by 26 percent -28 percent compared to the 2005 level by 2025. According to New York Times, the U.S. environmental policy has moved dangerously backward, with nearly 70 environmental rules reversed during this administration, and 30 more reversals in process. The environmental rollbacks could significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions over the next decade and lead to thousands of extra deaths from poor air quality each year.

Andrew Steer, president of the World Resources Institute, a global research-into-action organization dedicated to promoting economic development while protecting the natural environment, remarked that abandoning the Paris Agreement is cruel to future generations.

Some U.S. politicians are acting as “consensus breakers” and “trouble makers” that tremendously undermine the equality, efficiency and effects of global environmental governance. The U.S. it has not ratified multiple environmental treaties after signing them, including the Kyoto Protocol and the Convention on Biological Diversity. This shows that the U.S. has taken a unilateralist approach of evading restrictions from international environmental treaties and its own international responsibilities.

The U.S. not only owes contributions to the UNFCCC and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), but also largely reduced or cut its pledges to Global Environment Facility and Green Climate Fund, which has greatly weakened the ability of relevant mechanisms to provide funding to developing countries and hindered global climate and environmental cooperation.

Though the White House announced to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, it is still constantly disrupting the negotiations on the follow-up negotiations of the accord. Due to its negative negotiating stance, no consensus has been reached on climate change topic during G20 summits since 2017. The Guardian said that certain U.S. politicians have taken a giant step backward for the world on crises that concern the survival of the Earth.

These U.S. politicians have always applied double standards and been hegemonic on global environment governance. The White House refuses to fulfill its obligation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but is pushing developing countries to lower theirs. As one of the largest destinations and consumers of wildlife and relevant products, it is calling for a combat against illegal trade of wildlife in a high profile, but shutting its mouth on its own breaching of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. The U.S. is the world’s largest exporter of solid waste and a major consumer of plastics, but it has not ratified the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal. In addition, to find a way for its own garbage export, the country repeatedly accused China of banning the import of foreign garbage, including plastic waste.

Numerous facts proved that the U.S. is indifferent to its poor record in the climate and environment fields, and is shamelessly staging political farces that hurt the world and trampling on international law and rules. This fully exposed the country’s intention to threaten global ecological security.

Humans and nature are a shared community. The damages made by humans to the nature will finally hurt themselves, and this is an irresistible rule. The arbitrariness of some U.S. politicians not only goes against the will of the American people, but also hurts the common interests of the world and future generations.

Ecology and environment are fundamental to human existence and development, and ecological and environmental changes have a direct impact on the development of civilizations. Countries must fulfill their responsibility to jointly protect the environment, cope with climate change, and improve the capability of global environment governance.

(Zhong Sheng is a pen name often used by People’s Daily to express its views on foreign policy.)