USA president Donald Trump confirmed on 1 June that USA intends to withdraw from the Paris agreement, the 2015 agreement by 195 states to significantly reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.
"Even though the USA has taken this decision, the other 194 countries have said clearly that they are sticking to the agreement. Not least, China, India, the EU and Russia have emphasised their continued support. This indicates that the Paris agreement will survive even without the USA," says Erik Filipsson, Vattenfall's expert on international climate politics.
Vattenfall's strategy unchanged
Trump's decision has very little significance for Vattenfall's future approach. The EU's climate policy has been rolled out to some extent independently of the UN's climate agreement in Paris, and Vattenfall's strategy is primarily based on the assumption that technological development will favour renewable and fossil-free alternatives.
"Plans are already being made for offshore wind power at substantially reduced costs, and at the same time solar power is getting cheaper. Along with the development of other climate-smart and customer-centric solutions for both heating and power, this means that climate-impacting power generation will account for an increasingly small proportion of our operations. We have set ourselves the target of being fossil-free within a generation, and we remain committed to this target," says Magnus Hall, Vattenfall's CEO.
Great efforts required
Nevertheless, Trump's decision is a real setback for international climate cooperation. The UN climate agreement accepted at the COP21 meeting in Paris in 2015 is the result of many years of negotiation and great political effort.
The overall target of the Paris agreement to limit global warming to well under 2 degrees, and preferably to 1.5 degrees, requires a radical readjustment and, in principle, no net emissions of carbon dioxide after 2050. But the fact that the USA, the country that emits the most carbon dioxide in the world after China, instead wants to increase its use of coal, thereby increasing emissions, may make it very difficult or even impossible to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees.
No stopping the climate transition process
At the same time, several American states, as well as a large proportion of industry, have said that their ambitions remain unchanged.
"It is therefore not unlikely that the USA will nevertheless make some progress towards reducing its emissions by between 26 and 28 per cent by 2025, which is the national target that constitutes their contribution. This forecast is supported not only by the ambitious climate policies of many American states, but also by the powerful market forces that are making it difficult for coal to compete with natural gas, and by the fast development of renewable energy," says Filipsson.