What Withdrawing From The Paris Climate Agreement Means

By Lana Gilbert on June 2, 2017

In December 2015, 195 countries agreed to work towards holding global temperatures “well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels”. This agreement is known as the Paris Climate Agreement and initially only two countries–Syria and Nicaragua–did not sign the agreement, but on Thursday President Donald Trump added the United States to the list of countries not participating in the agreement. Syria and Nicaragua, however, have different reasons than the United States to not be apart of the agreement.

During the time of the agreement, Syrian government officials were unable to travel to Paris because of European and American sanctions. On the other hand, the Secretary for National Policies in Nicaragua, Paul Oquist, argued that the Paris Climate Agreement was not strict enough. Paul stated that a voluntary pact would not help climate change, and he believed that rich and developed countries should foot a higher bill since they have caused the most damage to the environment. So what’s Trump’s reason behind withdrawing the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement?

White House officials reported that Trump tried to renegotiate the terms of the Paris Climate Agreement, but Germany, France, and Italy said the terms of the agreement were not going to change. As a last minute desperation heave, several climate change lobbyists and members of Trump’s staff tried to convince Trump not to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, but Trump stood unshaken with his beliefs. Trump has repeatedly stated that he does not believe in global warming, and he planned to withdraw from the Paris pact well before taking office. Trump said,


Exiting the agreement protects the United States from future intrusions on the United States sovereignty and massive future legal liability. Believe me, we have massive legal liability if we stay in.

Now that the United States is pulling out what does this mean? The withdrawal process will take until November 4, 2020, at which time the next presidential administration can decide whether to rejoin the pact. Throughout the next four years, however, it is expected that Trump will continue to disavow other domestic climate control policies. The United States is already the second largest emitter of carbon dioxide, and seeing such a big contributor step down may cause other countries to take a more casual approach to working against climate change. In terms of the impact this will have on the environment, former President Barack Obama assures, “I’m confident that our states, cities, and businesses will step up.”

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