Opinion & Analysis

Macron weaponises trade in defence of Paris Agreement, by M. Darby

Will other world powers ever penalise the US for withdrawing from the Paris climate deal?

So far, most leaders have shown disappointment rather than teeth at president Donald Trump’s hostile stance towards climate cooperation.

Emmanuel Macron this week raised the stakes on one of Trump’s pet topics: trade. The EU would be “mad” to do a trade deal with any country that refuses to implement the Paris Agreement, he told a Brussels conference.

The French president also called for a carbon border tax on imports from laggard countries. It may be difficult in practice, but is one of the strongest (peaceable) enforcement options on the table.

And EU leaders signalled their willingness to tackle tough climate questions by ordering an updated 2050 carbon-cutting roadmap.

Inconvenient truth

Campaigners for the 1.5C global warming target tend to downplay its radicalism. To meet the goal, they say, you need to do the same things as for 2C, only faster.

A recent study sets out, more clearly than ever before, how much extra effort is needed to avoid that extra half a degree of temperature rise. Over the rest of the century, it will cost three times as much, with substantially more near-term action needed in the transport and buildings sectors.

Of course, that is only one side of the equation; higher warming also brings economic consequences. But it does show 1.5C is a tougher target than many want to admit.

Green trillion

The sooner investors start making climate-smart choices, the smoother – and cheaper – the transition to a low carbon economy will be.

That is why ex-UN climate chief Christiana Figueres is spearheading an initiative to scale up finance for climate-friendly infrastructure.

Issuance of “green bonds” needs to hit $1 trillion a year by 2020, she said at a London conference on Tuesday, urging public authorities and corporates to sign a pledge.

Imaginary trees

Greenpeace is urging consumers in the US and Europe to stop buying Brazilian ipe wood, after finding widespread fraud in the certification system.

In a joint investigation with regulator Ibama, the NGO showed loggers were overstating the number of ipe trees on certified land, to generate false credits. These credits were then used to launder wood stolen from indigenous or protected territory.

There is little oversight of managed forests to check they are complying with their certificates, Fabiano Maisonnave reports.

Avocado toast

Chile and Peru have signed a declaration to say shipping must take “urgent action” to cut emissions in line with the Paris Agreement.

When it comes to one of the most promising short-term measures for curbing the sector’s carbon footprints, though, they have their doubts.

Ahead of a key meeting at the International Maritime Organization next month, the two countries warned speed limits at sea could distort trade in avocados, cherries and blueberries – some of their key exports.

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