White House rejects reports of US staying in Paris Climate Accord

The White House has denied the claims made by EU officials that US has agreed to stay in the Paris Climate Accord, stating that its position remains unchanged until it gets more favourable terms. This statement comes after ministers from 30 countries gathered at Montreal ahead of the United Nations climate summit in November.

The report that appeared on Wall Street Journal, mentioned European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete as saying that the US would not pull out of the Paris accord and review the terms of the deal.

However, according to the Guardian, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “There has been no change in the United States’ position on the Paris agreement. As the President has made abundantly clear, the United States is withdrawing unless we can re-enter on terms that are more favorable to our country.”

In June, Trump called the climate pact a bad deal for US and declared about pulling out US from the Paris Accord, as per his campaign promise. This caused major uproar among the world leaders and the science community. 

Sources: The Guardian, CBS

Long anticipated Trump-Putin meet to take place during G-20 Summit

U.S. President Donald Trump will be meeting with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit taking place in the first week of July in Germany.

In a press briefing on June 29, White House National Security Advisor, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster said that, “Next Wednesday (July 5), President Trump will first travel to Warsaw, Poland, and later to Hamburg, Germany for the G-20. While in Hamburg, the President will meet with many world leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, UK PM Theresa May, Japanese PM Shinzo Abe, South Korean President, Moon Jae-in, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and others.”

The White House, however, did not assert whether Trump would discuss the alleged Russian meddling in US Presidential Elections last year with Putin in their first ever meet since Trump assumed office. After being asked about Trump’s objective, McMaster replied that there is no specific agenda of these meetings. “It’s really going to be whatever the President wants to talk about,” he said.

Broaching the topic of climate change, Director of National Economic Council, Gary Cohn said that USA will not comply with a deal in which they have to cut down emissions while other countries continue to grow until 2030. “President Trump is going to ask for a fair and level playing field when it comes to Paris Climate Agreement,” he said.

The 12th G-20 Summit will be taking place on 7 and 8 July, 2017 in Hamburg, hosted by Chancellor Merkel.

 

Source: White House National Security Council press, New York Times

Obama bans Offshore Drilling in Parts of Arctic and Atlantic

The Obama Administration announced a ban on offshore drilling of oil and gas in parts of the Arctic and Atlantic oceans on December 20 in an attempt to legitimise the President’s environmental legacy. The announcement of the ban came shortly after Canada’s decision to implement a similar ban, with a set of actions that are to be reviewed at intervals of five years.

Obama’s move was made with the help of a 63-year-old law that states that the President of the United States has the ability to permanently cease offshore drilling in certain regions. The ban will hinder Donald Trump’s proposed policy to increase US energy production, and Trump could face significant legal barriers if he attempts to reverse the order.

Offshore drilling will come to a halt in the US part of the Chukchi sea, along with large parts of the Beaufort Sea. The protected regions span 115 million acres and have been chosen due to their rich biodiversity and collapsing ecosystem. They are also natural habitats for several critically-endangered species, like the bowhead whale, polar bear and Pacific Walrus.

The move was criticised by the American Petroleum Institute. Erik Milito, the group’s Upstream director, was quoted saying, “The administration’s decision to remove key Arctic and Atlantic offshore areas from future leasing consideration ignores congressional intent, our national security, and vital, good-paying job opportunities for our shipyards, unions, and businesses of all types across the country.” While the ban is indefinite, it is not permanent, and may be overturned in the future.

 

Sources: Sky News, The Washington Post

San Diego to Move to 100% Renewable Energy in 20 Years

As the Paris Climate Summit reached a landmark record of 195 countries signing the Paris Agreement to reduce emission of greenhouse gases and other emissions, San Diego has taken the first step towards actualizing it. Local leaders on Tuesday signed a legal agreement to cut down their greenhouse gas emissions to half by 2035.

Being the eighth largest city in the USA, the announcement was hailed as symbolic and substantive, as it became the biggest American municipality to transition to 100% renewable energy including wind and solar energy. With San Diego taking the first step, a state like California can contribute to reducing the global carbon levels substantially.

The intricacies of the plan of action are yet to be worked out but may include transfer of power to city management from local utility. Officials have also revealed that they are looking to shift half the city’s vehicles to run on electricity by 2020 and recycle 98% methane produced by the sewage and water treatment plants.

It has been estimated by Mr. Evan Gillispie, Director of Sierra Club’s clean energy campaign that such the San Diego model would lead to an annual reduction of seven million metric tons of greenhouse gases, a contribution to California’s broader effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

Mr. Gillispie claimed that San Diego had laid down a challenge for other American cities with this initiative. “We need others to see this and say, ‘Game on,’ ” he added. “We need places like Los Angeles, like San Francisco and New York, to step up.”

Sources: NY Times

SanDiego, the 8th largest American city to go 100% green in 20 years (Image Courtesy: SanDiego Magazine)
SanDiego, the 8th largest American city to go 100% green in 20 years (Image Courtesy: SanDiego Magazine)

Severe snowstorm in northern US

Image Courtesy: media.newindianexpress.com
Image Courtesy: media.newindianexpress.com

A severe snowstorm is causing complete chaos in the US. The snowstorm has left motorists stranded, flights cancelled and claimed at least seven lives in the Buffalo area.

All 50 states are experiencing sub freezing temperatures says the National Weather Service and the temperatures in mid-west and the east coast are expected to be below normal until the weekend.

Some areas of Buffalo in northern US have received a year’s worth of snow in just three days, said officials. Travel has been banned and people have been requested to stay off the roads in Buffalo.

A county spokesperson was quoted saying that the storm isn’t over and that people should be prepared for two-three days of bad winter weather. He also confirmed 5 deaths due to the snow storm and three fatalities due to a heart attack while they were shoveling snow.

John Jiloty of East Aurora near Buffalo told the BBC that some people had been stuck in their cars for a day and a half.

More than a 100 National Guard members have been deployed in New York alone, to assist in removinf stranded vehicles and clearing the roads.

20 fatalities have been recorded due to the snowstorm across the US.

 

Source: NDTV, BBC