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India permitted to construct Kishanganga, Ratle projects: World Bank

WASHINGTON, Aug 2: Under the Indus Waters Treaty, India is permitted to construct hydroelectric power facilities on tributaries of the Jhelum and Chenab rivers with certain restrictions, the World Bank has said.

Pakistan opposes the construction of the Kishanganga (330 megawatts) and Ratle (850 megawatts) hydroelectric power plants being built by India, it said in a fact sheet issued yesterday at the conclusion of secretary-level talks between the two countries over the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT).

Noting that the two countries disagree over whether the technical design features of the two hydroelectric plants contravene the treaty, the World Bank said the IWT designates these two rivers as well as the Indus as the "Western Rivers" to which Pakistan has unrestricted use.

"Among other uses, India is permitted to construct hydroelectric power facilities on these rivers subject to constraints specified in Annexures to the treaty," the Bank said in its fact sheet as it noted that the secretary-level discussions between Indian and Pakistan on the technical issues of the IWT took place this week "in a spirit of goodwill and cooperation".

The parties have agreed to continue discussions and reconvene in September in Washington, DC, it said in a separate statement.

In the lengthy fact sheet, the World Bank said Pakistan asked it to facilitate the setting up of a Court of Arbitration to look into its concerns about the designs of the two hydroelectric power projects.

On the other hand, India had asked for the appointment of a neutral expert to look into the issues, contending the concerns Pakistan raised were "technical" ones.

The IWT was signed in 1960 after nine years of negotiations between India and Pakistan with the help of the World Bank, which is also a signatory.

The World Bank's role in relation to "differences" and "disputes" is limited to the designation of personnel to fulfill certain roles when requested by either or both of the parties, the fact sheet said.

Earth likely to warm more than two degrees by 2100: Experts

WASHINGTON, Aug 2: World temperatures are likely to rise by more than 2 degrees Celsius this century, surpassing a "tipping point" that a global climate deal aims to avert, scientists said. A study published in the journal Nature Climate Change shows a 90 percent chance that temperatures will increase this century by 2 to 4.9 degrees Celsius.

Researchers at the University of Washington found only a 5 percent chance that warming could be at or below 2 degrees Celsius – one of the targets set by the 2015 Paris climate deal on limiting emissions of greenhouse gases that warm the planet.

Missing that target would have dramatic consequences on people's livelihoods – such as prolonged periods of drought and rising sea levels – said Adrian Raftery, the lead author of the study and a professor at the University of Washington.

The study uses statistical projections based on total world population, GDP per capita and the amount of carbon emitted for each dollar of economic activity, known as carbon intensity.

"Our analysis shows that the goal of 2 degrees is very much a best-case scenario," said Raftery. "It is achievable, but only with major, sustained effort on all fronts over the next 80 years."

According to the U.N. Environment Programme, world greenhouse gas emissions, mainly from burning fossil fuels, are now about 54 billion tonnes a year and should be cut to 42 billion by 2030 to get on track to stay below 2 Celsius.

Ramping up efforts to improve carbon efficiency are key to limit future warming, Raftery told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a phone interview.

"Countries need to change the economic incentives for producing carbon – for example by introducing a carbon tax – and encourage innovation that would improve energy efficiency," he said. "We should be learning more from countries that are particularly carbon-efficient, like France, which has a very low-carbon transport infrastructure."

 

Neither pressure nor funds: Sushma Swaraj counters Donald Trump's charge on Paris climate deal

NEW DELHI, June 6: India did not join the Paris climate-change agreement under pressure or for funds from other nations, foreign minister Sushma Swaraj said on Monday, rebuking US President Donald Trump for comments dubbing India an unfair beneficiary of the deal.

As Sushma delivered the sharpest and most direct criticism yet by an Indian official of Trump's allegations against India, she insisted that bilateral relations remained on course under the new administration in Washington.

Trump had said, while withdrawing the US from the agreement last week, that India had made its participation in the Paris pact contingent on receiving "billions and billions and billions of dollars" from developed nations.

Indian officials had privately rejected his charge and Prime Minister Narendra Modi had taken a veiled dig at Trump on Saturday by suggesting in Paris that climate change remained "invisible" to some.

on Monday, Sushma directly criticised Trump. "That (Trump's allegation) is not the reality," she said, responding to a question from The Telegraph on the US President's accusation.

"Anyone who suggests that we signed the Paris agreement for money or under pressure is absolutely wrong. We did not. And whether America remains in it or not, we will stay in it."

Sushma's comments highlight the unease within the Modi administration over Trump's accusations, especially since the Prime Minister is to travel to Washington for his first meeting with the US President three weeks from now.

Her downplaying of the "pressure" on India reflected the government's efforts to underscore that New Delhi's decision to sign and ratify the Paris agreement had come on the basis of its assessment of India's needs.

Critics, including some former climate-change negotiators, have questioned the rush with which India ratified the Paris pact last October, just before the end of the term of Trump's predecessor Barack Obama, who had piloted the agreement.

India's ratification enabled the enforcement of the agreement -- countries contributing 55 per cent of the world's carbon emissions needed to ratify the deal for it to come into effect. India is the world's third-largest emitter.

However, India's ratification came at a time when Trump had been confirmed as the Republican candidate for President, and had made his disdain for the Paris pact clear.

The Paris agreement isn't the only niggle in the India-US relations, Sushma acknowledged, speaking at a media briefing.

Get outside, connect with the planet that sustains us, urges UN on World Environment Day

By Deepak Arora

UNITED NATIONS, June 5: With the theme of this year's World Environment Day – 'Connecting People to Nature' – aimed at highlighting the well-documented physical and mental health benefits of being in nature, the United Nations is today flagging the vast benefits of such engagement, from food security and improved health to reliable water supply and climatic stability.

“This is our environment. It is the keystone of a sustainable future. Without a healthy environment we cannot end poverty or build prosperity,” said Secretary-General António Guterres in a video message on the Day, commemorated annually on 5 June.

Pointing to land, water oceans, forests, and “the air that we breathe,” the UN chief reaffirmed that everyone has a role to play “in protecting our only home,” including using less plastics, driving less, wasting less food and “teaching each other to care.”

“On World Environment Day – and every day – let us reconnect with nature. Let us cherish the planet that protects us,” concluded Mr. Guterres.

World Environment Day is the largest global day for positive environmental action. This year, the main celebrations are hosted by Canada. The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) says thousands of people across six continents are joining massive clean-ups of beaches and parks, countries are protecting 1,600 square kilometres of land, and over 30 iconic landmarks, including the Empire State Building, 'Christ the Redeemer' statue in Rio, and Niagara Falls, will light up in green.

The Day's theme encourages people to simply 'get back outdoors'

The 2017 edition of the Day coincides with the opening at UN Headquarters in New York of The Ocean Conference, the first-ever high-level global meeting on conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. The Governments of Fiji and Sweden have the co-hosting responsibilities of the Conference.

The 2030 Agenda resolves “to ensure the lasting protection of the planet and its natural resources,” in particular, the Agenda's associated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 14 and 15 focus on respectively conserving and sustainably using the oceans, seas and marine resources and on protecting, restoring and promoting sustainable use of land ecosystems.

“Our entire modern life, with its skyscrapers and smartphones, stands on a delicate foundation of natural systems,” said UN Environment chief Erik Solheim in remarks on the Day. “Today, these foundations are shaking, undermined by man-made climate change, deforestation and extinctions. No amount of advanced technology will save us if we destroy and pollute our natural lifeblood.”

Billions of rural people around the world spend every working day 'connected to nature' and appreciate their dependence on natural water supplies and how nature support their livelihoods in the form of fertile soil. They are among the first to suffer when ecosystems are threatened, whether by pollution, climate change or over-exploitation.

'Connect with nature' by visiting an iconic UNECSO-designated site

In line with the theme of the Day, 'Connecting People with Nature,' Irina Bokova, the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, invited everyone to take time out from busy lives and to visit one of UNESCO's sites – including Biosphere Reserves, many Global Geoparks and iconic World Heritage sites – often overlying key strategic surface or groundwater resources and which bring together more than 2,000 exceptional sites around the world.

“All of them employ local people and have their doors wide open to the public, because we know now this is the surest path to more inclusive and sustainable development, respectful of the boundaries of the planet,” she said, calling women and men everywhere “to connect with the nature around them that gives beauty, meaning and harmony to the lives we lead.”

World on track to protect over 10 per cent of planet’s marine areas

For her part, Cristiana Pa?ca Palmer, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) announced that the total area covered by Marine Protected Areas has increased nearly 20-fold since 1993 and has more than doubled since 2010.
“With recent commitments made by governments around the globe, the world is on track to protect over 10 per cent of the globe’s marine areas by 2020,” she said, recalling that this target was agreed by Parties to the Convention in 2010, and was also adopted by UN Member States as part of SDG 14.

Focusing only on areas under national jurisdiction, 14.4 per cent are currently protected; this is projected to rise to over 23 per cent by 2020.

But while tremendous progress is being made in reaching this target for protected areas in our oceans, and the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 has been a catalyzing force” Ms. Pa?ca Palmer stressed that increased efforts are still needed to ensure that the growing network of Marine Protected Areas is representative of the different ocean ecosystems.

US Committed To Curbing Climate Change: Nikki Haley

WASHINGTON, June 4: US envoy to the UN Nikki Haley has defended President Donald Trump's controversial decision to withdraw from the landmark Paris accord but underlined that America was committed to curbing climate change.

President Trump last week withdrew the US from the Paris Agreement and said that India would get billions of dollars for meeting its commitment under the 2015 Paris Agreement along with China and gain a financial advantage over the US.

He had put the US in league with two other nations Syria and Nicaragua - who have not signed onto the deal agreed by over 190 other nations.

The decision has drawn a negative reaction from around the world with world leaders vowed to enhance their commitment to the landmark accord.

"Just because the US got out of a club does not mean we are not going to care about the environment," the Indian-American senior diplomat said yesterday.

Ms Haley, 45, has defended Donald Trump's decision saying he knows climate is changing.

Mr Trump "knows that it is changing and that the US has to be responsible for it and that is what we are going to do," Haley said, adding that withdrawing from the Paris agreement will not change the country's commitment to curbing climate change, the CNN reported.

"President Trump believes the climate is changing and he believes pollutants are part of the equation," Ms Haley said.

When asked why the US pulled out of the climate agreement, Ms Haley blamed former President Barack Obama for agreeing to regulations that were "too onerous," too strict and ultimately unachievable.

Ms Haley said the regulations from the Paris agreement were disadvantaging the companies.

"I knew that as a governor. The jobs were not attainable as long as we lived under those regulations. It was not possible to meet the goals had we attempted to," she said.

Ms Haley's comments are the closest acknowledgement by an administration official since Mr Trump took office that the President -- who has called climate change a "hoax" on multiple occasions -- believes global warming is occurring and humanity has a role in it.

When asked in November if he believed human activity was connected to climate change, Mr Trump acknowledged that there is "some connectivity."

But he backed away from saying to what extent he believed humans were responsible, adding that it "also depends on how much it's going to cost our companies."

Ms Haley said that US President Trump will always have America's best interests at heart, including what he does in regard to protecting the environment.

"The rest of the world wanted to tell us how to do it. But we will do it under our own terms," she said.

Green economy is 'the economy of the future,' says UN chief, urging commitment to climate action

ST. PETERSBURG, June 2: Underscoring the threats posed by climate change – those already apparent, as well as those sure to impact the future of the planet – United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres today urged Governments worldwide to “stay the course” and remain committed to climate action.

“[Climate change] is undeniable,” Secretary-General Guterres told the media at a press encounter in the Russian city of St. Petersburg.

“Those that will be betting on the implementation of the Paris Agreement, on the green economy, will be the ones that have a leading role in the economy of the 21st century,” he said.

Referring to the United States, where President Donald Trump announced yesterday the country's withdrawal from the landmark climate accord, Mr. Guterres added: “In relation to US society, I am deeply convinced that States, cities, the business community, the civil society, will also remain engaged, will bet on the green economy, because the green economy is the good economy, it is the economy of the future.”

The Paris Agreement – agreed in December 2015 and entered into force in November a year later – aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change, in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty.

Also today, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, voiced concern over the US withdrawal from the Agreement.

“The United States' withdrawal from the Paris Agreement is inconsistent with its obligations to those affected by climate change,” said the High Commissioner in a tweet.

Agreement cannot be renegotiated based on the request of a single Party – UNFCCC secretariat
Separately, the secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – the international environmental treaty under whose auspices the Paris Agreement was negotiated and agreed – expressed “regret” at the announcement that the US will withdraw from the accord.

In a statement yesterday, the UNFCCC secretariat said that it took note of the announced intention to renegotiate the modalities for the US participation in the Agreement and, in that regard, the secretariat stood ready to engage in dialogue with the US Government regarding the implications of the announcement.

However, it also pointed out that the Agreement – signed by 195 Parties and ratified by 146 countries plus the European Union – “cannot be renegotiated based on the request of a single Party.”

“It enjoys profound credibility, as it was forged by all nations and is supported by a growing wave of business, investors, cities, states, regions and citizens,” added the secretariat, noting that remains committed to continue working with all Governments and partners in their efforts to “fast forward” climate action at global and national levels.

Climate changing because of human activity – Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Also today, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – the international body for assessing the science related to climate change, which provides a scientific basis for governments at all levels to develop climate related policies – underscored that scientific evidence behind climate change is clear.

“The climate is changing and it is changing because of human activity,” Jonathan Lynn, the head of Communications and Media Relations at IPCC, told journalists at a regular press briefing in Geneva.

“As the last IPCC report put it: 'Without additional mitigation efforts beyond those in place today, and even with adaptation, warming by the end of the 21st century will lead to very high risk of severe, widespread and irreversible impacts',” he added.

At the same briefing, Deon Terblanche, Director of Atmospheric Research and Environment Department at the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), said that while the agency had not run new models overnight, an assumption could be made that in the worst case scenario, temperatures could rise by an additional 0.3 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial level by the end of the century.

US decision to withdraw from Paris climate accord a 'major disappointment': UN

By Deepak Arora

UNITED NATIONS, June 1: The Spokesman for the United Nations Secretary-General today said the decision by the United States to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change is a major disappointment for global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote global security.

“The Paris Agreement was adopted by all the world's nations in 2015 because they recognize the immense harm that climate change is already causing and the enormous opportunity that climate action presents,” Stéphane Dujarric told the media at the UN Headquarters in New York, shortly after US President Donald Trump announced his country's withdrawal from the Agreement.

“It offers a meaningful yet flexible framework for action by all countries.”

He further added that Secretary-General António Guterres remains confident that cities, States and businesses within the US – along with other countries – will continue to demonstrate vision and leadership by working for the low-carbon, resilient economic growth that will create quality jobs and markets for 21st century prosperity.

“It is crucial that the United States remains a leader on environmental issues,” he noted.

Mr. Dujarric also said that the Secretary-General looked forward to engaging with the US Government and all actors in the country and around the world to build the sustainable future on which the future generations depend.

The landmark agreement, which entered into force last November, calls on countries to combat climate change and to accelerate and intensify the actions and investments needed for a sustainable low carbon future, and to adapt to the increasing impacts of climate change.

It also aims to strengthen the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change and calls for scaled up financial flows, a new technology framework and an enhanced capacity-building framework to support action by developing countries and the most vulnerable countries in line with their own national objectives.

In a separate statement, the head of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) said the US decision to leave the Paris Agreement in no way brings an end to this unstoppable effort. China, India, the European Union and others are already showing strong leadership. Indeed, 190 nations are showing strong determination to work with them to protect this and future generations.

“The science on climate change is perfectly clear: we need more action, not less. This a global challenge. Every nation has a responsibility to act and to act now,” said UNEP Executive Director Erik Solheim, underscoring that there is incredible momentum on climate action and a single political decision will not derail this unparalleled effort.

Urging all parties to redouble their efforts, he said that UNEP would work with everyone willing to make a difference. “Climate action is not a burden, but an unprecedented opportunity. Decreasing our dependence on fossil fuels will build more inclusive and robust economies. It will save millions of lives and slash the huge healthcare cost of pollution.”

“Committing to climate action means helping countries like Iraq and Somalia on the front line of extremism and terrorism. It means helping coastal communities from Louisiana to the Solomon Islands,” explained Mr. Solheim, adding that it also means protecting food security and building stability to avoid adding yet more refugees to what is already an unprecedented global humanitarian crisis.

Trump announces US withdrawal from Paris climate deal

WASHINGTON, June 1: President Donald Trump on Thursday announced he was withdrawing the United States from the historic Paris Accord, saying it was bad for his country and its economy but kept the door open for a new partnership partnership on terms fair to America, workers, taxpayers and people.

“We’re getting out, but we will start to negotiate & we will see if we can make a deal that’s fair. If we can, that’s great,” Trump said in a speech at the White House, in which he went on to cite India and China, as countries that benefited from the Accord at the cost of America.

Spoiling environment for future generations immoral and criminal: Modi

BERLIN, May 30: It would be an “immoral and criminal act” to spoil the environment for future generations, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday, and underlined the need to protect nature, as the Donald Trump administration mulls to overturn the US’ position on the 2015 Paris climate accord.

Modi’s remarks came during a joint press interaction with German Chancellor Angela Merkel after the two leaders agreed to continue cooperation towards the common aim of developing climate-friendly, efficient and sustainable solutions for India’s expanding energy needs and other areas of sustainable development.

Emphasising the importance of protecting nature, Modi said “playing with the well-being of future generations would be an immoral and criminal act”.

In response to a question on climate change, the Prime Minister reiterated India’s timeless values of nurturing and protecting nature.

Modi also recalled India’s commitment to generate 175 giga watts of energy from renewable sources by 2022.

Later in a joint statement, Modi and Merkel expressed great appreciation for the successful cooperation on fostering renewable energies in India.

Building on existing formats of cooperation, the leaders reiterated their support to the Indo-German Climate and Renewables Alliance as an overarching alliance between India and Germany with the objective to give recognition to ongoing collaboration of various stakeholders on energy and climate change as well as to enhance cooperation and synergies in these fields.

They underlined the importance of the Indo-German Energy Forum (IGEF) in contributing to the further development of the Indian energy sector.

“Prime Minister Modi and Chancellor Merkel reaffirmed the importance of the Indo-German Environment Forum (IGEnvF) in contributing to further cooperation on environmental issues, including biodiversity and climate change. They agreed to hold the next meeting of the Indo-German Environmental Forum in 2017 in New Delhi,” said a statement.

Both sides expressed their commitment to work towards the goals expressed in the New Urban Agenda, agreed at the Habitat III conference in 2016.

Until 2022 Germany intends to provide financial and technical assistance in the range of 1 billion euros.

The two leaders welcomed the meetings of the Working Groups for collaboration in water management, waste management, circular economy, and climate change held in 2016 and took note of the scheduled meetings for 2017 including the meeting of the proposed Working Group on Biodiversity.

The leaders acknowledged, in particular with regard to the G20, the ongoing important work and activities at different levels to fight marine litter and to counteract its impacts. They stressed the need for cooperation to follow-up on the work done so far within the G20.

Recognising the need to promote an ecosystem that creates entrepreneurial economy, Modi and Merkel agreed to promote cooperation in the field of Startups by facilitating interaction with various stakeholders in the Startups ecosystem.

The two leaders welcomed the outcome of the annual negotiations on development cooperation held in October 2016, as well as the new envisaged commitments in bilateral development cooperation for 2017, each comprising an amount of 1 billion euros.

India and Germany share a long standing, trustful and successful development cooperation.

Lauding Germany’s assistance in developmental projects over the years, Modi highlighted the successful Indo-German Solar Partnership founded in 2015 and the cooperation on Green Energy Corridors established in 2013.

US President Donald Trump announced on Saturday that he will make a decision next week on whether the US will abide by the 2015 Paris agreement on cutting global carbon emissions.

“I will make my final decision on the Paris Accord next week!” Trump tweeted from the G7 summit in Sicily.

Climate action 'a necessity and an opportunity,' says UN chief, urging world to rally behind Paris accord

By Deepak Arora

NEW YORK, May 30: Highlighting the seriousness of the impact of climate change on the planet and its inhabitants, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres today called for sustained action to meet the global challenge and to ensure a peaceful and sustainable future for all.

“The effects of climate change are dangerous and they are accelerating,” Secretary-General Guterres told a gathering of students, business leaders and academics at the New York University Stern School of Business.

“It is absolutely essential that the world implements the Paris Agreement [on climate change] – and that we fulfil that duty with increased ambition,” he underscored, recalling the ground-breaking agreement that entered into force last November.

The Agreement calls on countries to combat climate change and to accelerate and intensify the actions and investments needed for a sustainable low carbon future, and to adapt to the increasing impacts of climate change.

It also aims to strengthen the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change and calls for scaled up financial flows, a new technology framework and an enhanced capacity-building framework to support action by developing countries and the most vulnerable countries in line with their own national objectives.

Science 'is beyond doubt'

Underlining that science behind climate change “is beyond doubt,” Mr. Guterres said:

“As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change put it: 'Human influence on the climate system is clear. The more we disrupt our climate, the more we risk severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts,'” he said, recalling that global temperatures have been rising, year after year, and that that last year was the hottest on record.

Furthermore, there are fears that the melt of sea ice and glaciers due to rising temperatures will have deep and far reaching impact: droughts and dry spells will last longer, while natural disasters like floods and hurricanes will be even more destructive.

Impacts of these catastrophic events, Mr. Guterres noted, would be felt in all corners of the world and in all sectors of the economy.

Informing of his intention to convene a dedicated climate summit in 2019 to reach the critical first review of implementation of the Paris Agreement, the UN chief called on all, including those who might hold divergent perspectives on climate change to engage with him on the way forward.

Green business is good business

He also pointed to the opportunities that climate action can provide, such as through the creation of jobs and increased economic growth. It is thus, not surprising, that many private corporations, including major oil and gas companies have adopted climate action.

“They know that green business is good business. It is not just the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do,” he highlighted.

Five-point action plan

Laying out a five-point action plan to mobilize the world for climate action, the UN chief underscored that he will intensify political engagement with countries to increase efforts to limit temperature rise to well below 2 degree-Celsius and as close as possible to 1.5 degree-Celsius, the first point.

He also said that he would engage more with Governments and major actors, including the coal, oil and gas industries, to accelerate the global transition to sustainable energy, and committed stronger support by the entire UN development system to Governments as they strive to meet climate commitments and achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially at the country level.

“That is where true change will be achieved,” he said.

The UN chief also said that he will work to with UN Member States mobilize national and international resources for adaptation, resilience, and the implementation of national climate action plans, and called for new and strengthened partnerships, including with the private sector and through North-South, South-South and triangular cooperation.

Further in his remarks, the Secretary-General cautioned that failure to act on combatting climate change would in turn harm the countries themselves for their inaction.

“Those who fail to bet on the green economy will be living in a grey future [but] those who embrace green technologies will set the gold standard for economic leadership in the twenty-first century,” he said.

Trump Signs Order Sweeping Away Obama-Era Climate Policies

WASHINGTON, March 28: President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed an order to undo Obama-era regulations to curb climate change, keeping a campaign promise to support the coal industry while calling into question US support for an international deal to fight global warming.

Flanked by coal miners, Trump enacted his "Energy Independence" executive order at the Environmental Protection Agency. A coalition of 23 states and local governments vowed to fight the order in court.

The order's main target is former President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan, which required states to slash carbon emissions from power plants - a key factor in the United States' ability to meet its commitments under a climate change accord reached by nearly 200 countries in Paris in 2015.

Trump's decree also reverses a ban on coal leasing on federal lands, undoes rules to curb methane emissions from oil and gas production and reduces the weight of climate change and carbon emissions in policy and infrastructure permitting decisions.

Carbon dioxide and methane are two of the main greenhouse gases blamed by scientists for heating the earth.

"I am taking historic steps to lift restrictions on American energy, to reverse government intrusion and to cancel job-killing regulations," Trump said at the EPA.

The room was filled with miners, coal company executives and staff from industry groups, who applauded loudly as Trump spoke. Shares in US coal companies edged higher in response.

The wide-ranging order is the boldest yet in Trump's broader push to cut environmental regulation to revive the drilling and mining industries, a promise he made repeatedly during the 2016 presidential campaign. Energy analysts and executives have questioned whether the moves will have a big effect on their industries, and environmentalists have called them reckless.

"I cannot tell you how many jobs the executive order is going to create, but I can tell you that it provides confidence in this administration's commitment to the coal industry," Kentucky Coal Association president Tyler White told Reuters.

Environmental groups hurled scorn on Trump's order, arguing it was dangerous and went against the broader global trend toward cleaner energy technologies.

"These actions are an assault on American values and they endanger the health, safety and prosperity of every American," said billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer, the head of activist group NextGen Climate.

Trump signed the order with EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Vice President Mike Pence by his side.

US presidents have aimed to reduce US dependence on foreign oil since the Arab oil embargo of the 1970s, which triggered soaring prices. But the United States still imports about 7.9 million barrels of crude oil a day, almost enough to meet total oil demand in Japan and India combined.

Green group Earthjustice was one of many organizations that said it will fight the order both in and out of court. "This order ignores the law and scientific reality," said its president, Trip Van Noppen.

An overwhelming majority of scientists believe that human use of oil and coal for energy is a main driver of climate change, causing a damaging rise in sea levels, droughts and more frequent violent storms.

But Trump and several members of his administration have doubts about climate change, and Trump promised during his campaign to pull the United States out of the Paris climate accord, arguing it would hurt US business.

Since being elected, Trump has been mum on the Paris deal and the executive order does not address it.
Christiana Figueres, former executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change who helped broker the Paris accord, lamented Trump's order.

"Trying to make fossil fuels remain competitive in the face of a booming clean renewable power sector, with the clean air and plentiful jobs it continues to generate, is going against the flow of economics," she said.

The order directs the EPA to start a formal process to undo the Clean Power Plan, which was introduced by Obama in 2014 but was never implemented in part because of legal challenges brought by Republican-controlled states.

The Clean Power Plan required states to collectively cut carbon emissions from power plants by 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

Some 85 percent of US states are on track to meet the targets despite the fact the rule has not been implemented, according to Bill Becker, director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, a group of state and local air pollution control agencies.

Trump's order also lifts the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management's temporary ban on coal leasing on federal property put in place by Obama in 2016 as part of a review to study the program's impact on climate change and ensure royalty revenues were fair to taxpayers.

It also asks federal agencies to discount the cost of carbon in policy decisions and the weight of climate change considerations in infrastructure permitting, and it reverses rules limiting methane leakage from oil and gas facilities.

 

Archives
India to ratify Paris climate change pact on Oct 2

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