U.S. Begins Withdrawal From Paris Agreement


President Donald Trump has begun the year-long process of withdrawing the United States from the Paris Climate Accord, announced U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. After over two years of repeatedly pledging to leave the agreement, Monday is the first day any country can file the exit papers in compliance with United Nations rules. The withdrawal does not come into effect officially until the day after the 2020 U.S. presidential election. In the announcement, Pompeo cites “the unfair economic burden imposed on American workers, businesses and taxpayers by U.S. pledges made under the Agreement” as the reason for the decision. The United States had signed onto the 2015 accord during the Obama administration, promising a 26-28% cut in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 from 2005 levels. 

Although Pompeo claims, “[t]he United States has reduced all types of emissions, even as we grow our economy and ensure our citizens’ access to affordable energy,” the U.S. is far off track from its 2015 pledges and from neutralizing climate emissions by 2050, which many climate scientists say will be necessary for all countries to meet in order to prevent the escalating climate crisis. The 2003 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says if we cut global emissions to net-zero by 2050 we can still keep warming below 1.5 degrees. 

The U.S.’ decision to formally ratify the Paris Climate Accord was hailed as a breakthrough in international climate change action. As the second biggest climate polluter and the world’s largest economy, Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement will come as a major blow in the battle against global environmental change. The IPCC clearly set out the salience of global environmental change: ‘Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased.’ The IPCC’s report points to the overwhelming scientific evidence, notably, many of the likely responses to increased global temperatures will be neither gradual nor predictable.

The hope for climate action by the U..S rests on the 2020 presidential-elect to reverse Trump’s decision and take active steps to cut carbon pollution. All presidential candidates running against Trump have pledged to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord, and most candidates have the goal of achieving the net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by the middle of the century.

Amira Higazy

Amira is a student at the University of Toronto pursuing a double major in Economics and International Relations with a minor in Political Science. She is particularly interested in international human rights law, and the intersection of global politics and economics on key issues related to poverty, global income inequality, the environment and gender inequality. Her other major research interests include the economics of conflict, civil war and insurgency and environmental economics.

About Amira Higazy

Amira is a student at the University of Toronto pursuing a double major in Economics and International Relations with a minor in Political Science. She is particularly interested in international human rights law, and the intersection of global politics and economics on key issues related to poverty, global income inequality, the environment and gender inequality. Her other major research interests include the economics of conflict, civil war and insurgency and environmental economics.