Trump Begins US Withdrawal from Paris Agreement, Now What?

Yesterday, the Trump administration gave formal notice to the UN that it would begin the process of withdrawing the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement which will finalize in one year. As the New York Times’ Lisa Friedman explained,

“The action, which came on the first day possible under the accord’s complex rules on withdrawal, begins a yearlong countdown to the United States exit and a concerted effort to preserve the Paris Agreement, under which nearly 200 nations have pledged to cut greenhouse emissions and to help poor countries cope with the worst effects of an already warming planet.”

How Bad is This?: The Paris Agreements is a non-binding structure to encourage international action on climate change. While many have argued that it doesn’t hold nations’ feet to the fire to accomplish enough emissions reductions, many experts agree that it is a necessary foreign policy framework that signals America’s commitment to abating the climate crisis.

Faulty Agrugment: The Trump Administration keeps claiming that the Paris Climate Agreement places an unfair economic burden on American workers, businesses, and taxpayers. Data shows time and again that this is not true. Not only are the two fastest-growing jobs in America in wind and solar but renewable energy could save $160 trillion in climate change costs by 2050.

What’s the Process?: As the Washington Post explained,

“The Trump administration could have pursued a more radical means of withdrawal from the Paris agreement, but it is still going by the book — and in this case, that means Article 28 of the Paris agreement. That text specifies that after joining the agreement, a country can’t leave for three years, after which there is a one-year waiting period for the leave to be fully in effect.”

However, this formal step could be reversed by a future administration after 30 days.

The Responses: You can check out what NRDC, Former Secretaries John Kerry and Chuck Hagel, Al Gore, and Nancy Pelosi and of course, current Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Why This Matters: Experts have lamented that the commitments made under the Paris Climate Agreement were too modest and countries are failing to meet them anyway. Regardless, the agreement demonstrated to the rest of the world that the United States was serious about curbing climate change. The Clean Power Plan (CPP) was the mechanism by which the U.S. was to meet its commitment to the Paris Agreement, and while the Trump administration replaced with a far weaker policy, the original plan wasn’t going to significantly reshape the U.S. fuel mix. However, Trump’s moves to weaken climate policy underscore the urgency for the next president and Congress to enact comprehensive climate action.

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