Trump announced today that he is effectively pulling the U.S. out of participating in the Paris climate accord the U.S. signed in 2015. The agreement—signed by a staggering 195 countries—aimed to reduce harmful greenhouse emissions around the world. The idea was to combat global climate change head on and with a united, multinational effort. At the time, it was considered a landmark diplomatic achievement and a culmination of all that President Barack Obama had been striving for in his environmental agenda.
But, of course, none of that really matters now. It is expected that several other countries will now follow America’s lead. Trump saw the the pact as limiting and a potential threat to the national economy. The idea behind the agreement was for all countries—rich, poor, global leaders etc.—to do their best to equally shoulder the burden of combating climate change to limit the difficulty for any one country. With America putting itself first, other countries will no doubt refuse to take on the risk when the planet’s second worst pollution offender refuses to make any changes. Trump claimed in a statement that:
In order to fulfill my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord but begin negotiations to re-enter either the Paris accord or an entirely new transaction on terms that are fair to the United States. We are getting out. But we will start to negotiate, and we will see if we can make a deal that’s fair. And if we can, that’s great.
He further went on to claim that the agreement would cost 2.7 million American jobs by 2025 if adhered to. The study he cites has been heavily disputed by environmental groups. Indeed Barack Obama claimed the exact opposite today in a statement claiming:
The nations that remain in the Paris Agreement will be the nations that reap the benefits in jobs and industries created. I believe the United States of America should be at the front of the pack. But even in the absence of American leadership; even as this Administration joins a small handful of nations that reject the future; I’m confident that our states, cities, and businesses will step up and do even more to lead the way, and help protect for future generations the one planet we’ve got.
The main good news stemming from the announcement is Trump’s adherence to the clause that says the United States cannot exit until Nov. 4, 2020. This will be the day after the next presidential election. Whether we America should stay committed to the agreement or not will no doubt become a campaign issue in the future, and the election of a candidate that supports remaining in the agreement could potentially keep America involved (even though they wouldn’t actually be president yet).
Trump made his decision against the wishes of many politicians and even some in his own administration. Even large companies such as IBM are unhappy with the decision. For its part, IBM claims they will stick with the deal regardless of America’s decisions stating:
This agreement requires all participating countries to put forward their best efforts on climate change as determined by each country. IBM believes that it is easier to lead outcomes by being at the table, as a participant in the agreement, rather than from outside it.
It’s disheartening news for those hoping America would make some real progress towards dealing with increasing global temperature, but there is some sliver of hope that things could change in the next four years. It remains to be seen how much this decision further distances us from Europe’s leaders who grow increasingly exasperated with our faltering leadership.