Private industry will ultimately determine whether the U.S. meets the Paris agreement, despite what the Trump administration plans, the United Nations’ Environment Programme (UNEP) director predicted Tuesday.
“All the big American companies are dedicated to go in the green direction,” UNEP executive director Erik Solheim said Tuesday about the march toward adopting the measures laid out in the Paris deal. He was referring to what he believes will be the private sector’s willingness to circumvent President Donald Trump’s move to separate the U.S. from the agreement.
“At the end of the day … the private sector and business are now driving the agenda,” Solheim said in a video conference in Geneva that discusses how countries are addressing greenhouse gas emissions. Corporate America will solve the problem, Solheim added.
The non-binding Paris agreement, which former President Barack Obama signed in 2015, commits each country in the deal to lower greenhouse gas emissions that scientists believe are causing man-made global warming. Nicaragua and the U.S. are the only two countries that have chosen to opt out of the agreement.
Analysts believe Obama’s target of 26 to 28 percent greenhouse gas level reductions by 2025 based off 2005 emissions levels mostly missed the mark. The Rhodium Group, for instance, found earlier this year that the U.S. would not be able to hit the mark under Obama’s climate regulations, which were substantial at the time of Rhodium’s report.
Solheim’s optimism is based on a mostly state-oriented campaign to adopt some of the policies in the deal. But the so-called “We Are Still In” campaign will fall flat unless it manages to convince nearly every fossil fuel burning state in the country to back the Paris deal.
So far only the greenest states with the most to gain politically from opposing President Donald Trump have joined the pact. Major energy producing states such as Texas, Pennsylvania, and the Dakotas have not signed onto the coalition’s non-binding pact, which could greatly hamper the We Are Still In campaign. Most of the states in the campaign reside on the coasts.
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