President Trump’s exact words were: “We’re getting out.” He was referring to the Paris Climate Accord, in which on Dec. 12, 2015 representatives from 196 nations committed to adopt clean energy sources, cut down on climate change emissions and limit the rise of global temperatures. Trump said the climate agreement put unfair environmental standards on American businesses and workers and stated that the U.S. will negotiate either re-entering the Paris agreement or a new deal that would put American workers first.
However, many are not in agreement that leaving the Paris accord will put American workers back in the game, never mind the rest of the world. Business leaders such as Elon Musk of Tesla and Jeffrey R. Immelt of General Electric say that this decision will only hurt the economy and its workers by sending jobs in clean energy and technology to other countries.
Environmental activists and ordinary citizens alike are also outraged. Under the agreement, the United States has committed to cut its greenhouse gas emissions 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025 as well as give $3 billion in aid by 2020 to developing countries so they too can invest in clean technologies. But it looks like that promise won’t be kept, at least by the federal government.
However, reactions from state and local leaders around the country are uplifting. Washington D.C.’s mayor, Muriel Bowser stated “Going forward, our commitment to wind and solar will not yield, and we will move forward with building a more sustainable D.C." William Peduto, Pittsburgh’s mayor, said: “As the Mayor of Pittsburgh, I can assure you that we will follow the guidelines of the Paris Agreement for our people, our economy and future." Susan Collins, a senator from Maine, remarked: “Climate change requires a global approach. I'm disappointed in the President's decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.” And San Diego’s mayor reported, “San Diego remains as committed as ever to implementing our landmark Climate Action Plan and being a national leader in solar, renewable energy use, water purification and green job creation.” To read other leaders' reactions, read here.
Nevertheless, the official withdrawal procedures will take time, providing that President Trump actually follows them. The process will last until November 2020, coinciding with the 2020 election. Additionally, the leaders of France, Italy and Germany pointed out in a joint statement that the US cannot legally renegotiate the agreement unilaterally, as the agreement "cannot be renegotiated based on the request of a single party," according to the UN.
But what could this pull-out actually mean? To learn about this move will likely affect the coal industry, the climate, the U.S. economy, and international relations, read here.