Despite Protests, UN Climate Summit Yields Few Results


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President Trump sits in on UN Climate Action Summit 2019

Tucker Price, News Editor

On September 19th, the world joined with Greta Thunberg in protest to take action on climate change. It was estimated that around 185 countries joined in protest just days before a UN climate summit. Now, after the climate summit on September 23rd, it is entirely likely that protesters will be disappointed by the results.

One of the most discussed topics at the summit was the Paris Agreement, which the US intends to withdraw from in 2020. Prior to the summit, the US neglected to ask for a speaking slot, however, in an unexpected turn of events, President Trump and Vice President Pence decided to sit in on the meeting. During the summit, perhaps as a result of the attendance of President Trump, the US was heavily referenced when discussing climate and trade regulations that affect it. Wang Yi, a representative for Chinese President Xi Jinping, made multiple comments both vaguely and clearly directed towards the US. Wang Yi stated first that “The withdrawal of certain parties (from the Paris Agreement) will not shake the collective will of the international community, nor will it reverse the historical trend of international cooperation”. This comment, while not directed specifically at the US, is directed at countries who have pledged to withdraw from the agreement. The US is the only country that has pledged to withdraw. As the conference progressed, Wang Yi directly references the US’ recent implementation of new tariffs on Chinese goods, stating that these new regulations are “not the right solution to trade regulations.”Further in the conference, President Emmanuel Macron of France corroborated this point: “I don’t want to see new trade negotiations from countries who are running counter to the Paris Agreement.” While the US has technically made the pledge to withdraw, they have not yet made the switch, and are still under the regulations of this agreement. However, they have failed to uphold their original commitments outlined by the Paris Agreement. 

Many countries in attendance of the summit made minimal commitments to new policies. China, for example, stated that they will “faithfully fulfill” its obligations made in the Paris agreement. Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, stated that they would increase their share of renewable energy by 2022, making no other promises to decrease its use of coal, which provides almost half of India’s energy. Russia stated that they would ratify the Paris Agreement, but nothing more. The European Union, while on track for upholding the Paris Agreement, made no other promises relating to clean energy, and the United States, which is nowhere near on track to uphold the Paris Agreement, remained silent on the subject. Germany, previously off track to reduce its emission of greenhouse gases by 2030, promoted a $60 billion plan to limit carbon emissions from various industrial polluters. According to the Clean Energy Wire, coal still makes up 35.3 percent of Germany’s energy production. 

Greta Thunberg outlined plans for future strikes this week, dubbing it the “week for future”. This is furthering her strike plans that she dubs “Fridays for future”. Thunberg plans to organize another worldwide strike this Friday, the 27th, citing that 170 countries so far have organized 6383 events this week in a recent tweet, continuing the trend of climate strikes.

The Falcon will follow these strikes as they unfold.