US today is officially out of the Paris climate agreement. Trump’s withdrawal formally came into force today.

Donald Trump or Joe Biden? The world is closely observing the US presidential election results, but there is another hugely consequential news event that is going to take place today in America: The US will formally leave the landmark Paris climate agreement today. Now I am sure, you remember.

Don’t tell me, you were thinking that the United States quit the Paris climate change agreement a long time ago. Well…actually no. According to United Nations rules, the US can officially leave the global climate accord on November 4, 2020. While the world is hinged to their television sets in order to watch the US election results, the US is quietly leaving the global climate agreement aimed to reduce climate change.

After decades of negotiations, the Paris Agreement came into force on November 4, 2016. It was first in 2017 when President Trump announced his intention to abandon the climate pact and formally notified the United Nations last year. Coincidently, the mandatory year-long waiting period ends today on November 4, the deciding day of Trump’s second term as the US President.

Soon after Trump took to office in 2016, he wanted to remove the US from the accord, but the process took four years. Finally, it is today when the US is leaving the Paris climate agreement, however, nobody knows whether Trump will be in the office or not to celebrate his long-standing stubborn denial of the existing climate crisis.

President Trump has called the Paris Agreement “job-killing” and was heard saying that the accord would “punish the American people while enriching foreign polluters.”

What is Paris climate agreement?

The Paris climate agreement is a convention that brings all 197 nations of the world into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change, with enhanced support to assist developing countries to do so. The central aim of the agreement is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise well below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius. 

It came together in Paris in 2015, under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The then President, Barack Obama, was seen calling other world leaders to join the convention back then as he believed that efforts are required to protect the climate. President Obama promised to reduce the country’s emissions by about 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, but progress on the goal stopped under Trump’s administration.

If we see technically, the Paris climate agreement doesn’t require the United States to do anything in particular. In fact, it is not even a treaty till now. It’s a non-binding agreement among nations of all levels of wealth and responsibility for causing climate change to reduce domestic emissions.

Is Trump on a war with science?

Trump’s stance on climate change is quite clear to almost everyone because of course, he is very much vocal about it.

Trump is often heard saying that climate change is “mythical”, “non-existent”, or “an expensive hoax”. But on the other hand, he has subsequently described it as a “serious subject” that is “very important to him”.

According to a news, in 2009, Trump actually signed a full-page advert in the New York Times, along with dozens of other business leaders, expressing support for legislation combating climate change. But in the later years, he is seen taking an opposite approach on Twitter, with more than 120 posts questioning or making light of climate change.

A few months ago, Trump thumbed his nose yet again at climate change and came close to fully dismantling his predecessor’s environment and climate legacy, when he rolled back Obama’s last major environmental regulation, restricting methane leaks. Trump before leaving his first term as a President effectively freed oil and gas companies to detect and repair methane leaks.

Trump has also replaced Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which was intended to sharply reduce emissions from US power plants.  There are few more rollbacks of Trump’s administration like cross-state air pollution regulations and energy efficiency regulations that literally side-lined the environmental and climate concerns.

What if Biden wins the elections?

If it’s a win for Joe Biden in the Presidential election 2020, Americans can expect the US to re-join the accord next year, i.e. in 2021. Former Vice President Biden has already pledged that if he wins, he will recommit the United States to the Paris climate agreement in order to protect the climate as he understands the sensitivity of the impact that climate change can cause.

The US withdrawal from the agreement is not final and any future President can opt for it again. But if Trump remains in office, the US will have to remain out of the accord for another four years.

Moreover, it is important to note that if the US stayed out of the agreement also, it still has a voice in United Nations climate negotiations. That’s majorly because it would still be a member of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the body that created the Paris climate agreement. 

By Mahima Joshi

Mahima Joshi is a writer at The Wonk. She is a postgraduate in Journalism, who is just curious about everything that is happening around. She is an enthusiastic reader especially concerning gender dynamics in mythological stories.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *