Tuesday, November 5, 2019

US Formally Announces Plan to Withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord

Sacré-Cœur in Paris. Photo by Bob Brinkmann.
In a surprise to no one who is paying attention, the New York Times is reporting that the U.S. formally announced its intention to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord. This is the most important international agreement that focuses on greenhouse gas reductions. It is hardly a perfect agreement--I wrote about my concerns with the agreement here--but it is the only one we have. The U.S. cannot actually withdraw until after the U.S. election in 2020, but the announcement puts the world on notice that the U.S. will not participate if the current occupant of the White House wins reelection in 2020. The announcement will certainly motivate the environmental community to get active in the coming election.

To be frank, the U.S. federal government has not really been a major leader in greenhouse gas reductions. Most of the heavy lifting so far has been done by states and local governments along with businesses. As the article points out, there will be more pressure on these entities to get more aggressive with greenhouse gas reduction in the absence of federal leadership.

If the current occupant of the White House loses the election, which is looking likely, the U.S. will probably stay in the Paris Accord. However, in the coming year of uncertainty, many are looking for alternative ways to advance a global fix to the greenhouse gas problem without U.S. leadership. The withdraw is another example of the U.S. walking away from leadership positions on the global stage.

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