Published: Wed, November 06, 2019
Research | By Sheri Schwartz

US moves closer to withdrawing from Paris climate pact

US moves closer to withdrawing from Paris climate pact

The Trump administration, which separated from the worldwide community on climate change soon after taking office, filed for divorce on Monday by formally notifying the United Nations that it was withdrawing from the Paris climate accord.

Trump also said the United States would begin negotiations to re-enter either the Paris Accord or an entirely new transaction on terms that "are fair to the United States, its businesses, its workers, its people, its taxpayers". According to United Nations rules, no country could withdraw from the accord for three years. China, which contributes the most emissions, claimed it had made great strides and said it had achieved its 2020 goals in 2017.

"We're witnessing devastating fires in California, melting in the Alaskan tundra and horrific tropical storm surges on America's coasts", said Rep. Eliot Engel, the committee's chairman.

In the USA businesses and state governments have stepped up, vowing to adhere to the principles laid out in the Paris Climate Accord which calls for the planet to be carbon neutral by 2050.

The Paris agreement, in which almost 200 countries set their own national targets for reducing or controlling pollution, went into effect on November 4, 2016. The administration, which argues that Paris Agreement would cost usa taxpayers too much money, filed official paperwork on Monday to withdraw. Trump's administration also refused to commit previously agreed funds to the key Green Climate Fund. Because those economies are growing and coal produces much of their electricity, total emissions have risen sharply even though carbon intensity levels in China and India have fallen.

The chamber voted earlier this year to rejoin the agreement via H.R. 9, the "Climate Action Now Act", and staying in Paris is one of the few climate policies that virtually every congressional Democrat can agree on. Many experts say that the lack of USA participation in the 1997 agreement severely undermined the efforts to cut emissions to slow down global warming.

The federal government's regression on climate change has sparked a bottom up race to fulfil at least part of the US' promises to cut emissions.

Announcing the move, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reiterated Trump's remarks in 2017 that the agreement imposed an "unfair economic burden" on the United States.

Pledging to pursue a "realistic and pragmatic model", Pompeo pointed to a 13 percent USA reduction of greenhouse gas emissions blamed for climate change from 2005 to 2017 even as the economy grew.

The alliance said it collectively represents more than half of the US population and an $11.7 trillion economy, which equates to "what would be the third largest national economy in the world after those of the United States and China".

President Donald Trump, with the coal industry and other supporters in mind, has been pledging to leave the pact since before he took office. Moreover, many scientists say continued expansion of natural gas is inconsistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

The IPCC has previously admitted that climate models can't be used to accurately predict long-term changes in the climate.

Undoubtedly, Trump hopes the withdrawal will rally his base for election season while Democrats will use the decision to withdraw as a rallying point for their campaigns.

But even outside the agreement, the United States will continue to take part in the climate talks.

The World Wildlife Federation said, while not a surprise, the move continues the USA federal government's "abdication of global climate leadership".

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