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Upholding the climate accord

June 05,2017
President Donald Trump announced that the United States was withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord, a nonbinding landmark deal sponsored by the United Nations to make its member countries do their part to combat the globe’s rising temperature. The agreement that took effect in November requires both developed and underdeveloped economies to cut their carbon emissions from 2020. Former U.S. president Barack Obama signed the deal with commitment to bring down greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025.

Trump, who governs under the “American First” slogan, said Thursday he was pulling the U.S. out of the global climate deal as he had promised during his campaign because he was “elected by the citizens of Pittsburgh not Paris.” The U.S. has joined Syria and Nicaragua in the disgraceful short list of global members refusing to join the international commitment. The world’s second largest producer of carbon emissions drew condemnation from the world for shunning its duty to fight global warming.

Other states reaffirmed their commitment to the emission control plan. They are fully aware of the dangers from the warming climate. The globe is getting hotter and hotter. The average temperature is already 1.2 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial levels and nearing the Paris-set Maginot Line of 1.5 degrees. Sea levels have gone up because of melting in Arctic ice. Climate is getting more unpredictable and abnormal.

Korea is an eager member of the Paris commitment. The Korean peninsula was unusually hot last summer. Seoul in 2015 promised to bring down emissions 37 percent below the business-as-usual level of 851 metric tons of carbon dioxide by 2030. The industry then complained of the unrealistically harsh target. The bar may have been raised too ambitiously.

But last year, emissions in Korea decreased 0.8 percent from 2014. If renewable energy sources are increased and energy efficiency raised, the reduction target could be reachable. President Moon Jae-in promised to bump up the share of renewable energy to 20 percent by 2030.

Reduction of greenhouse gas is a universal goal to ensure a sustainable future for the coming generations. Capabilities to control carbon emissions and save energy will determine industrial competitiveness. We must learn from the U.S. that we could fall behind international competition if we follow the wrong path.

JoongAng Ilbo, June 3, Page 26