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Trump Withdraws the US from the Paris Climate Agreement

June 6, 2017


VIDEO here: https://youtu.be/9mBNMKvy3a8


On Thursday, June 1st, President Trump announced during a news conference in the White House Rose Garden that he would be withdrawing the United States from the Paris Climate Accord, which is a historic international agreement between 195 countries to hold the increase in global average temperature below 2 degrees Celsius by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  By doing this, Trump fulfilled his campaign promises, despite the fact that foreign leaders, business CEOs and his own daughter, Ivanka, lobbied heavily for him to remain a part of the deal.


In his speech, Trump argued that the Paris climate accord is extremely unfair to the US in particular, saying that the agreement is less about the climate and more about other countries gaining a financial advantage over the United States.  "The agreement is a massive redistribution of United States' wealth to other countries. It's to give their country an economic edge over the United States. That's not going to happen while I'm president. I'm sorry." Trump also emphasized that the withdrawal from the agreement would represent a reassertion of American workers sovereignty.

"It is time to put Youngstown, Ohio, Detroit, Michigan, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, along with many, many other locations within our great country, before Paris, France”.  In a much quoted line from the speech, Trump also said that he was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris, somehow not realizing that climate change is a global issue that affects citizens in every part of the world.


Foreign leaders from around the globe criticized Trump’s decision.  Leaders of Germany, France and Italy dismissed the idea of renegotiation in a joint statement: “We deem the momentum generated in Paris in December 2015 irreversible and we firmly believe that the Paris Agreement cannot be renegotiated since it is a vital instrument for our planet, societies and economies.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed disappointment directly to Trump, and French president Emmanuel Macron said to Make Our Planet Great Again in a video address to the American people.  Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla who encouraged Trump to remain in the Paris agreement, said he would quit the White House business advisory councils as a result of Trump's decision.


This move puts the US among the two other countries in the world who have not signed on to the Paris accord — Syria and Nicaragua.  Nicaragua actually did not join the accord because the plan did not go far enough to fight climate change.


In response, the European Union and China have united behind the Paris climate deal.  Miguel Arias Cañete, EU commissioner on climate action and energy, told CNN in a statement that the two powers "are joining forces to forge ahead on the implementation of the Paris Agreement and accelerate the global transition to clean energy."  In a joint statement, the two have committed to quote “significantly intensify their political, technical, economic and scientific cooperation on climate change and clean energy."  Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg has pledged to provide up to $15 million in funding for the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. [video]


So, what comes next? First off, because the deal was never ratified by the Senate, the United States will face few barriers to leaving.  According to the New York Times, the formal withdrawal process takes four years to complete and would lead to an official exit on Nov. 4, 2020, the day after the next presidential election.  The US is still a part of the UNFCC and can still partake in future UN climate discussions, but under Trump, that prospect is unlikely.  

Although the goal of staying under a 2 degree limit will now be more difficult without the US, no other country has said it will cut emissions further.


The fight against climate change is now up to cities, states, companies, and most importantly, the public.  Ways to help include supporting and donating to organizations such as the National Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club, and Greenpeace.  Contact your state legislator and ask them to improve upon state policies concerning climate change.


That’s all for this week’s report.  Thanks for watching, and see you next week.


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