One Billion People In Immediate Jeopardy If Paris Agreement Fails


Robin Andrews

Science & Policy Writer

The Turkana Tribe in Northern Kenya is threatened with extinction thanks to climate change's unrelenting pace. Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Just as the Trump administration appears to be about to withdraw from the Paris agreement, 48 of the world’s poorest nations – all part of the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) – have reaffirmed that the climate change pact is vital for their survival.

Speaking in front of thousands of delegates at the climate change talks in Bonn, the group took a shot at the US President by saying that “no country would be great again” without swift action.


“For all of us, the Paris agreement is our lifeline.”

The Paris agreement’s key objective is to prevent 2°C (3.6°F) of warming by 2100. This is a fairly arbitrary limit, but at this point, the scale of the anthropogenically enhanced natural disasters and climate-related hazardous phenomena would be near-impossible to mitigate against.

However, plenty of developing nations have asked for the world to pull together and to limit warming to no more than 1.5°C (2.7°F) by the end of the century. Plenty of low-income nations simply do not have the resources to fight against rising sea levels, increasingly powerful hurricanes, droughts, floods, and wildfires, as well as the related increases in heat stress-provoked violence and communicable diseases.

Wealthier nations, even if they face climate refugee crises and sunken cities, will still pull through the next century’s unprecedented warming. Poorer countries, particularly those that are literally sinking entirely beneath the waves, will collapse or disappear altogether if the Paris agreement isn’t adhered to and enhanced over time.


Far from just relying on major greenhouse gas emitters like China, the US, and the European Union, members of the CVF are also committed to making the switch from fossil fuel power generation to low-carbon electrical grids themselves. Although using clean energy has a net economic benefit, many of these countries require a kickstarter fund, so to speak, to ease the initial transition.


High-income nations have, as part of Paris, pledged various sums of aid money to help them in this regard, as well as assisting with improving agriculture and building defenses against natural disasters. The Obama administration pledged $3 billion, and managed to pay one-third of this before Trump sat in the Oval Office.

For his part, Trump has pledged to withdraw from the agreement, as well as cancel any future aid payments. Although the world could still meet the objectives of Paris without America’s help, its withdrawal would still be a huge blow to everyone else – particularly those in the CVF.

Roughly 1 billion people belong to this group. If the US exits the agreement and ultimately derails it, every single one of these people’s lives will be put at risk.


With America First, the poor come in last.

[H/T: BBC News]


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