Despite the climate emergency becoming every day more visible, United States President Donald Trump took the first step to formally exit the Paris Agreement, which seeks to limit the temperature increase to 2ºC compared to pre-industrial levels. The move was widespread questioned by civil society.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the move in a tweet Monday, the first day that countries could begin the one-year withdrawal process. “The U.S. is proud of our record as a world leader in reducing all emissions, fostering resilience, growing our economy, and ensuring energy for our citizens,” he wrote.
Trump announced his intention to abandon the agreement, which was backed by the Obama administration, in a June 2017 speech. In the two years since, every nation on earth has pledged support for the accord, which went into effect on Nov. 4, 2016. No country was allowed to withdraw for three years.
The Trump administration was required to send a letter to the United Nations to begin the withdrawal process, which now they have done. The process will take a full year to be completed, finalizing on November 4, 2020, right after the US presidential elections on November 3.
Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), said: “Trump’s decision to walk away from the Paris agreement is irresponsible and shortsighted. All too many people are already experiencing the costly and harmful impacts of climate change in the form of rising seas, more intense hurricanes and wildfires, and record-breaking temperatures.”
The Paris Agreement was adopted at the COP21 United Nations climate change conference. It is the first-ever universal, (sort of) binding global climate deal, which sets out a global action plan to put the world on track for avoiding the worst effects of global warming.
In order to do that, countries agreed under the Paris Agreement to keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, while aiming at 1.5º if possible. This means global emissions will have to reach a peak as soon as possible.
Jean Su, energy director with the Center for Biological Diversity’s (CBD) Climate Law Institute, said in a statement: “Trump can run from the Paris agreement, but he can’t hide from the climate crisis. The silver lining is Trump’s Paris withdrawal will give the global community a break from his bullying support for fossil fuels.”
With the Trump administration’s withdrawal, “Donald Trump is sending a signal to the world that there will be no leadership from the U.S. federal government on the climate crisis—a catastrophic message in a moment of great urgency,” 350.org executive director May Boeve said.
- Fermin Koop, What is the Paris agreement? A breakdown on its importance, 2019
- Mihai Andrei, Trump's response to California fires paints a dire picture for climate change, 2019
- Elena Motivans, Paris Climate Agreement 1.5˚C goals would help keep the Arctic icy, 2018