The US Supreme Court’s surprise decision to halt President Barack Obama’s climate change regulation could imperil the Paris accord and raise doubts in India and China about US commitments, according to the New York Times.
The Paris Agreement committing every country to combating climate change, had as a cornerstone Obama’s assurance that the US would carry out strong, legally sound policies to significantly cut carbon emissions, the influential US daily noted.
“But in the capitals of India and China, two of the world’s largest polluters, climate change policy experts said the Supreme Court decision threw the American commitment into question, and possibly New Delhi’s and Beijing’s, too,” it said.
“If the US Supreme Court actually declares the coal power plant rules stillborn, the chances of nurturing trust between countries would all but vanish,” the Times cited Navroz K. Dubash, a senior fellow at the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi, as saying.
Inaction by the United States has long been the chief obstacle to meaningful global climate change agreements. India and China in particular resisted action absent a climate change policy in the United States, the Times noted.
The Supreme Court decision temporarily blocked the Obama administration’s rule to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants.
On the basis of those rules, Obama had won agreements from China and India to enact their own pollution reduction plans, and helped push other countries into signing on to the Paris measure, the Times noted.
Over the past year, Obama worked closely with the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, to bring India to the table for the Paris deal.
Modi and many within India were resistant; the prime minister’s top priority is to make cheap electricity available to the 300 million Indians who live without power, it said.
If the United States reneges on its commitments, “it really would strengthen the hand of those who say Paris was ineffective and a bad deal for India,” Dubash was quoted as saying..
American policy experts cited by the Times agreed that the Supreme Court decision might be the first of many fractures in the deal.
“The honeymoon for Paris is now definitely over,” said John Sterman, a professor of management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who attended the Paris talks.
“This pushback is not something that’s unique to the United States,” he added. “It’s happening all over the developed world.”