Last week, the world was shaken by the news that Donald Trump would take the USA out of the Paris accord. In his address to the USA, and the world, Trump suggested that the Paris accord was unfair to the USA, forcing them to cut back on coal power stations, while other countries, such as China, are able to increase their coal energy production. This claim, amongst others, were factually incorrect. (Coal is not actually mentioned in the Paris Accord), but regardless of the facts, America is beginning the long journey of backing out of the agreement.
Throughout the world, leaders of nations, scientists, business leaders and the public have strongly criticised this decision, which makes the task of keeping the planets temperature increase to below a 2 degrees increase of pre industrial levels, much more difficult. The USA has pumped more CO2 into the atmosphere than any nation, and continues to rank highly on CO2 emissions per capita, but whilst their exit from the agreement will potentially increase their CO2 emissions, it could have a positive side effect.
With world leaders standing together in condemnation, the remaining members of the Paris Accord have a chance to further solidify their relationships. Russia, the EU, and China have all taken a tough stance on the USA exit, stating that renegotiations will not be taking place. The new French President, Emmanuel Macron, even gave a public address inviting climate scientists from the USA to come and work in France, outlining their plans to take advantage of Trump’s decision.
With clear support for the Paris accord across the globe, it is important that the EU and Switzerland also take advantage. China has already become the world’s largest renewable energy producers, and have plans to invest $377 Billion into renewables by 2020. With America taking a back foot in the fight against climate change, China are seeking to become the world leaders on climate change tech.
The Swiss government have taken another step this week by giving the go ahead to ratify the Paris Agreement. The upper chamber of parliament gave its approval on Wednesday. Steps will be taken by Switzerland to halve CO2 emissions, from 1990 rates, by 2030 and also increasing taxes on CO2. Changing policy is an important step, but there also needs to be support for technology that enables change.
The Swiss Federal Office of Energy have also made a positive move in that direction. They have supported the world’s first commercial carbon capture plant, launched last week by Climeworks in Hinwil, Switzerland, with funding. This plant removes CO2 from the air, and delivers it to a nearby greenhouse to increase productivity. Circular economy projects, such as this one, are incredibly important to reducing the amount of fossil CO2 pumped into the atmosphere. There needs to be even further investment in such technology in Switzerland and the EU to make sure that they remain at the forefront of climate change technology.
Climeworks plant Hinwil, Switzerland