US Exits Paris: Now What?

Life After America for the Paris Agreement

Quibbl asks what’s next for international climate policy and compares differing opinions on the US decision to withdraw from the global pact

By Morgan Lee with Ben Purcell

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As part of a global effort to slow and eventually halt climate change, 196 countries agreed to the Paris climate accord in December of 2015. On September 3rd, 2016, President Obama formally entered the United States into the agreement; China did so on the same day.

On June 1st, President Trump announced his intention to withdraw the US from the Paris Climate Agreement and become one of only three UN countries (Syria and Nicaragua have not signed) not involved in the agreement.

What exactly is the Paris Agreement?

  • Rather than international law, the Paris Accord is a non-binding pact that outlines recommended policies and benchmarks.
  • Significant aspects of the Paris Accord include a goal for temperatures to rise no higher than 1.5° Celsius above preindustrial levels and a long-term target of zero net greenhouse gas emissions.
  • In order to reach these goals, each country party to the agreement developed its own set of environmental policies. For example, under President Obama, the US pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025.

US pullout, political fallout

  • Thus far, outside of the US, none of the hundred-plus countries signed on to the Paris agreement has indicated a possibility of exiting the deal. In fact, the two other largest carbon-emitting countries in the world, China and India, have recently reaffirmed their intent to remain in the coalition and work toward fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Although many supporters of President Trump and the Republican party back the US withdrawal from the agreement, the decision was also met with protest across the country, including from within the GOP.
  • Some US leaders are attempting to channel frustration over the departure into action in line with the agreement’s goals: Billionaire philanthropist and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg has pledged $15 million to UN climate causes.

Will more private investors fund environmental efforts to help make up for the loss of the Paris Accord? Cast your vote on Quibbl!

  • In addition to support from individuals, many states and politicians have formed an initiative called the US Climate Agreement – an effort to organize the United States toward a unified environmental advocacy and policy strategy.

How many states will join the US Climate Agreement by the end of the year? Quibbl here.

What’s next for official US climate policy

In announcing America’s withdrawal, President Trump expressed openness to re-entering the accords on terms more favorable to US interests. International climate policy, however, has not so far appeared to be a priority for the Trump administration.

Will the US reenter the Paris Accords? Quibbl Here.

The spectrum of opinion over the US withdrawal

  • “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris. I promised I would exit or renegotiate any deal which fails to serve America’s interests.” -President Trump
  • “As the Mayor of Pittsburgh, I can assure you that we will follow the guidelines of the Paris Agreement for our people, our economy & future.” Mayor Bill Peduto
  • Concern that the American government’s decision reflected a willingness to isolate itself from the global community was summed up by French President Emmanuel Macron: “I do respect this decision but I do think it is an actual mistake both for the U.S. and for our planet. Wherever we live, whoever we are, we all share the same responsibility: make our planet great again.” 
  • National Review’s David French, himself a member of the conservative “Never Trump” faction, actually agreed with the President’s decision, characterizing the agreement as unconstitutional and bad for the country’s economy. Others cheering the decision simply celebrated a fulfilled campaign promise.

What do you think? Quibbl about all things politics here.

 

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