By Veronica Souza
President Donald Trump has chosen to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement unless changes are made to make it more favorable to US interests. According to BBC, Trump recently stated “we’re getting out. And we will start to renegotiate and we’ll see if there’s a better deal. If we can, great. If we can’t, that’s fine”. Gary Cohn, head of the National Economic Council, cautioned against a complete withdrawal.
Numerous countries are expressing their disappointment. The leaders of France, Germany, and Italy have issued a joint statement condemning Trump’s decision, expressing that the agreement cannot be negotiated. The Guardian reports that Jochen Flasbarth, the German environment state secretary supports the joint statement, affirming that “National pledges can be updated but not weakened [since] current pledges are not sufficient to limit global warming to 2C, let alone 1.5C”.
The Paris Climate Accord, an agreement between all nations, aims to combat climate change. The agreement has been deemed historic by numerous sources who view it as the first successful global effort for a greener planet. The key elements include keeping global temperatures below 1.5 C, limiting the amount of greenhouse gases produced, reviewing each country’s contributions every three years, and inciting rich countries to provide “climate finance” to poor countries. Climate finance will allow poor countries to trade fossil fuels for renewable energy. However, attaining these goals comes at a costly price. Because developing countries need financial and technological help to switch to renewable energy, wealthier nations are obligated to give them 100 billion dollars per year. The amount may seem large but it is still 8% lower than worldwide-declared military spending each year.
Trump reasons that he is choosing to leave the accord because it is “unfair to the U.S workers he had vowed to protect” and it “hurts domestic manufacturing and other industries,” according to The Washington Post. Many scientists argue that because the U.S is the world’s second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, its withdrawal will make the Paris agreement ineffective.
Vice President Pence supported the withdrawal, explaining that Trump is simply putting America first. Others, including Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter, and Secretary of State Rex Tiller, also disproved of the withdrawal and urged him to remain in the agreement. Al Gore, who won a Nobel Peace Prize for his work on decreasing global warming, strongly criticized Trump, calling his decision “reckless and indefensible,” says The Washington Post.
Although Trump has chosen to withdraw from the pact, the U.S cannot actually leave until November 2020, due to legal conditions set forth in the agreement. However, if Trump does officially withdraw from the agreement, a future administration could potentially rejoin.