11 Mar 2020, 13:26
Julian Wettengel

Some countries will wait out US elections before deciding on climate targets – policy expert

Clean Energy Wire

Some countries are likely to wait and see whether U.S. President Donald Trump wins another four years in office in November before committing to stepping up their climate ambitions at this year's UN climate conference, according to Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy for the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). “Everyone knew in 2015 it was the expectation – even though we were not able to get a kind of ‘shall’-language in there – that countries would update their original Paris pledges by 2020,” he told Clean Energy Wire. While a number of smaller countries have already done so, most of the G20 countries have not. If big players like the European Union and China give a joint signal at the upcoming leaders' summit in Leipzig this September, it would be “a huge deal” and would help move countries like India and others, Meyer said. “But with the U.S. on the sidelines and unless you have the EU and China leadership, I think it is quite likely that people are going to be waiting to see what the U.S. election outcome in November is before deciding where to go on their Paris commitments.”

Under the 2015 Paris climate agreement, countries around the world are expected to increase their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) as part of a global drive for more ambition this year, and the EU and Germany are expected to play a pivotal role. After the UN climate conference in Madrid left many disappointed, countries are set to ratchet up ambitions in the run-up to the next UN climate conference in Glasgow in November. The EU-China summit in Leipzig in September could be an opportunity for the two regions to announce more ambitious policies – a much needed push as oil-rich Saudi Arabia hosts the G20 summit and the United States may well cement its farewell to the Paris Agreement with a re-election of President Donald Trump.

The research for this article was supported through a Kellen Fellowship by the American Council on Germany.

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