Observer: US impedes global environment governance, threatens global ecological security
By Zhong Sheng
People's Daily app

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

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

The Paris Agreement is considered a shining pearl among the major multilateral achievements in recent years, and symbolizes the wide international consensus on global climate governance problems. The US is the world’s largest emitter in history. As a major country, it shall be responsible, with its fossil fuel emissions per capita at 14.6 tons in 2017, 3.3 times the global average.


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 It did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol and has now withdrawn from the Paris Agreement, denying its own binding quantifiable emissions reduction obligations.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

It seems that some US politicians don't care 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 in greenhouse gas reductions, refusing to fulfill its promise to reduce emissions by 26-28 percent compared to the 2005 level by 2025. According to the New York Times, the US environmental policy has moved dangerously backward, with nearly 70 environmental rules reversed during this administration, and 30 more reversals in the 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, said abandoning the Paris Agreement is cruel to future generations.

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

The US 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 the 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 the country’s withdrawal 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 US politicians have taken a giant step backward for the world on crises that concern the survival of Earth.

These US politicians have always applied double standards and been hegemonic on global environment governance. The White House refuses to fulfill its obligations 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 fight against the illegal trade of wildlife in a high profile, but shutting its mouth on its own breach of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. The US is the world's largest exporter of solid waste and a major consumer of plastics, but 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 US is indifferent to its poor record in the climate and environment fields, and is shamelessly staging political farces that hurt the world and trample 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 damage made by humans to nature will backfire. The arbitrariness of some US politicians not only goes against the will of the American people, but also hurts the 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.)