On June 1st, President Trump announced his decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.
What is the Paris Agreement?
In December 2015, then President Obama attended the Paris climate conference (COP21) and signed an executive order for the US, alongside 194 other nations, to adopt the Paris Agreement. This agreement calls for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (CO2) by replacing fossil fuels with clean energy. The US signed on to reduce its emissions by 26-28% by 2025, from 6132 million to at most 4,537.68 million metric tons of CO2. Initiatives to meet this goal included incentives for companies and “tighter emissions standards in the automobile and coal industries”. For the US to properly implement the agreement it must be submitted to the Congress, which has not happened yet.
What has been President Trump’s stance on climate change and the accord before his decision?
President Trump has continuously called climate change a hoax. At a rally in 2015, Trump said, “Obama’s talking about all of this with the global warming and … a lot of it’s a hoax. It’s a hoax. I mean, it’s a money-making industry, okay? It’s a hoax, a lot of it.”
What is this “money-making industry”? According to Trump, it is an industry that makes money for the Chinese. In 2012, he tweeted, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” During his announcement to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, Trump cited protecting the American economy, particularly the coal industry, as one of his reasons for the decision. He claimed that the agreement’s protective measures would take away from company profits and shrink the coal and oil industries.
However, he has attempted to amend his previously expressed opinions by calling the tweet a joke. Additionally, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley claimed that “[President Trump] believes the climate is changing” on Face The Nation.
What could this decision mean for America and the future?
Large companies, such as Walmart, Facebook, and General Electric, have vowed to go even further than the Paris Agreement. In 2017, Google’s global operations will run fully on renewable energy. Facebook expects its operations to be at least 50% run on clean energy.
His decision does not only impact companies. Lindsey Graham, Republican Senator for South Carolina, said, “If [Trump] were to withdraw [from the Paris Agreement], that would be a definitive statement that climate change is a hoax. Stay in the deal… It means that the leader of the Republican party is in a different spot than the rest of the world.”
This decision affects the Republican’s leadership position as well as America’s. According to the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, 69% of Americans support participation in the Paris Agreement. Additionally, America is withdrawing from an agreement signed by 175 countries (out of 195 countries in the world). Without participation in the agreement, Americans would lose their trust in Republicans and America would lose its international influence.
This announcement may not mean a full withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. Trump has stated that he would like “negotiate” a deal that is fairer to the American people.
Author: Gabbie Acot