US Begins Formal Withdrawal From Paris Climate Accord

The Trump administration has announced that the United States will be officially withdrawing from the Paris climate accord. According to CNN, this was the first step “in a year long process to leave the landmark agreement to reduce emissions of planet warming gases.” This decision was first brought to the public in 2017 when President Trump shared his intentions to pull the U.S. out of the agreement. By officially announcing his plan to withdraw now, the U.S. could be completely out of the Agreement by November of 2020, just after the presidential election. Trump’s decision is just one of many initiatives he’s taken during his presidency to push back on environmental regulations. According to CNN, “From replacing the Clean Power Plan to attempting to loosen fuel economy standards, it is another push from an administration that has made rolling back environmental regulations a top priority.”

In a statement given by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, he said, “Today the United States began the process to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. Per the terms of the Agreement, the United States submitted formal notification of its withdrawal to the United Nations. The withdrawal will take effect one year from delivery of the notification.” According to CNN, withdrawing from the Agreement “sends a powerful message to the rest of the world: That as the damaging impacts of climate change become more apparent, the US – which according a recent analysis has contributed more to global warming than any other country – will not be part of the international charge to solve the crisis.”

According to the LA Times, in the statement, Pompeo also said that the president decided to withdraw from the agreement because of the “unfair economic burden” it imposed, but that the U.S. would continue to work with other countries to reduce emissions and “enhance resilience to the impacts of climate change.” Critics of the withdrawal have refuted such claims and actually argue that there are more benefits to both the US and the world in staying in the Agreement. According to CNN, critics of the withdrawal are saying that “the US leaving an agreement it helped negotiate will harm the country’s standing internationally.” In addition, Andrew Light, a senior fellow at the World Resources Institute and a former State Department official who helped negotiate the Paris Agreement on behalf of the Obama administration, said “Our credibility is really at an all-time low on this when it’s most needed.” According to CNN, Ernest Moniz, the Obama administration energy secretary who worked on the agreement, also criticized the withdrawal, saying that the move is “the latest step in the abandonment of American leadership to address the climate crisis.” According to CNN, Moniz also added that there are some “efforts to curtail emissions in states and cities” but stated that they are not enough and that “the world needs us to play the key role in building broad coalitions and creating actionable frameworks to transition to a low-carbon global economy.”

Trump’s decision to leave the Paris Agreement comes at no surprise. After repeatedly criticizing the Agreement and even calling climate change a “hoax,” it comes as no surprise that he would attempt to take the U.S. out of one of the most important global initiatives to combat climate change. According to the LA Times, “it has been widely expected since June 1, 2017, when Trump announced his intention to withdraw, criticizing the accord as “simply the latest example of Washington entering into an agreement that disadvantages the United States to the exclusive benefit of other countries.”

Fortunately, it would take a year for the U.S. to officially withdraw from the Paris Agreement, giving it till the 2020 presidential election. There is still a chance that the U.S. will remain in the agreement, but only if Trump is not elected. According to CNN, “Should Trump lose the 2020 election, a new president could rejoin the agreement, but would have to put forth new climate commitments to the UN.” Thus, there is a chance still that the U.S. will remain in the pact. According to the LA Times, Democrats in Congress have criticized Trump’s decision and Robert Menendez, New Jersey Senator, called the decision, “one of the worst examples of President Trump’s willful abdication of U.S. leadership.” He added, “By charging forth with this withdrawal, the Trump administration has once again thumbed its nose at our allies, turned a blind eye to the facts, and further politicized the world’s greatest environmental challenge.”

If Trump is reelected in 2020, the U.S.’ withdrawal from the agreement would be inevitable. However, if not, according to the LA Times, “All of the Democratic presidential candidates have promised to rejoin the Paris agreement and some, including many of the leading candidates, have called for the U.S. to set more ambitious emissions reduction goals.” Therefore, this presidential election is one of the most important we are having. Based on the results of the upcoming election, the U.S. will either be part of the global initiative to combat climate change or it will be an outlier amongst the rest of the world.