As of 3:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, President Trump has officially withdrawn America from the Paris Climate Accord, a global effort aimed at combating climate change. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised since Trump has called global warming a “hoax” propagated by the Chinese (despite mountains of scientific evidence and, you know, facts). But I’m still really, really disappointed.
The Paris Climate Accord was signed on December 12, 2015. 196 countries volunteered to join the agreement. It was the first time in history that all nations banded together to address climate change.
Under the Paris Climate Accord, countries agreed to cut greenhouse gas emissions, keep global temperatures from rising more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit and review each country’s efforts to cut emissions every five years. The richer countries in the accord are expected to help the poor nations by providing “climate finance” so that the poorer countries are able to switch to renewable energy.
Which is all to say that the Paris Climate Accord is a HUGE DEAL. It’s a worldwide effort to combat climate change which, you know, leads to rising sea levels, warmer oceans, intense droughts, higher temperatures and changing wildlife habitats and populations – not to mention the economic impacts of industries such as fishing and water utilities being affected.
Climate change is no joke and people around the world rejoiced when the Paris Climate Accord was signed in 2015. President Barack Obama formally entered the U.S. into the Paris Agreement in 2016 through an “executive agreement”, which means he didn’t need Senate approval – which means that Donald Trump can now leave the Paris Agreement without Senate approval.
Former President Barack Obama said the agreement would be judged “as a turning point for our planet” and dubbed it “a historic day”.
“This gives us the best possible shot to save the one planet we’ve got,” Obama said.
Now that Trump has decided to leave the Paris Agreement, there are three different scenarios that could play out.
- Part of the Paris Agreement was that countries had to stay in it for at least three years. The Paris Agreement officially began on November 4, 2016 which means America is obligated to stay until November 2019. So even though President Trump wants to leave the Paris Accord, it’s possible that the U.S. will only be out of the agreement for one year – if the 2020 election nets a President who wants to rejoin the agreement.
- It is possible for President Trump to technically stay in the agreement for the next three years without actually making any efforts to uphold the statutes of the agreement. Some parts of the agreement are not legally required.
- The U.S. is also part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Countries can leave the UNFCCC while only providing one year’s notice and leaving the UNFCCC “shall be considered as also having withdrawn from this Agreement”, according to the Paris Agreement.