01 June 2017

IChemE Energy Centre responds to US withdrawal from Paris Agreement

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The Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) Energy Centre has responded to recent reports that President of the United States, Donald Trump, has intended to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement.

The Paris Agreement went down in history at the COP21 climate talks in 2015, as 190 nations, including the US, signed to limit the global average temperature increase to ‘well below 2 degrees’. Since then 147 parties have ratified the Agreement, and it was entered into force on 4 November 2016 – four days before the US election results were announced.

The US withdrawal by Trump comes shortly after plans to scrap the Clean Power Plan were announced in March.

Chair of IChemE’s Energy Centre, Professor Stefaan Simons said:

“Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris accord poses a significant threat to attempts to limit the global average temperature increases to 2 degrees. Whilst there will no-doubt be ripple effects from this decision the transition to a low-carbon global economy must continue, and the principles of the accord must be upheld by remaining signatories.

“Global leaders must continue to develop a unified and coherent strategy for reducing emissions and moving beyond fossil fuels without the United States’ involvement in the short term, whilst working towards new ways of collaborating with them in the future. Green technology in the US employs more people than in coal; renewables are an emerging sector that will have a positive impact for the economy.

“Whilst their withdrawal from the agreement presents a range of challenges, there is also an opportunity for those countries who remain committed to become leaders in the fields that will be integral to the energy mix in the future. By intensifying research and development efforts and championing technologies such as nuclear energy, carbon capture and storage, energy and resource efficiency and bioenergy, they will be well placed to reap the benefits once the transition occurs.

"The expertise of chemical engineers will play a vital role in these efforts, and IChemE Energy Centre looks forward to supporting them to do so. If the other 146 signatories who have ratified the Agreement hold firm, ultimately it will be the US that lose out.”

The US withdrawal marks the first renege of the Marrakech Action Proclamation, a statement following the COP22 talks in 2016 which reaffirmed a global commitment to the Paris Agreement.

IChemE has called on governments to take immediate action to meet their emissions targets, and start to deploy low-carbon technologies for decarbonisation. Read the statement here.

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