Posted by 12 June 2017
The U.S. is going its own way on climate change policy. For President Trump, that’s exactly what he wants. His decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate change accord is a way to protect jobs and preserve national sovereignty. For critics, it means the U.S. will be making environmental problems worse.
What does President Trump’s decision mean?
The practical effects may be very little. The Paris climate accord sets carbon emissions goals for participating nations to meet, but these goals are voluntary. The goals for the U.S. would have been a 26-28% reduction in carbon by 2035. It is highly unlikely that this goal was achievable. There is no penalty if the U.S. would not have made those reductions, however.
The agreement also asks wealthier countries to send more foreign aid to poorer countries as a way to help those nations deal with climate change. Again, however, there is no penalty for failing to comply.
The overall goal of the treaty is to keep global temperatures from rising 2 degrees by the end of the century. There are 195 nations who have signed it.
While proponents of it acknowledge that the accord is not binding, they see it as a way to build consensus among nations to reduce carbon emissions. Critics, however, see complying with its standards as causing higher energy prices and job losses, without doing much to stop climate change.
The U.S. signed the agreement in 2016. This was controversial, since President Obama did not submit it to the Senate for ratification. His administration said that it was an “executive agreement,” not a treaty that requires approval by the Senate. According to the accord, withdrawal can only happen three years after the agreement goes into effect in a country and then one year after notification, so the U.S. date for withdrawal is actually in 2020.
Do you agree with the president’s decision to withdraw from this agreement? Or do you think that the U.S. should be working internationally to reduce carbon emissions?