This decision came after months of debate within the administration about whether to stay in the landmark international climate agreement. Trump wants to see the Paris Agreement remove the nationally determined contributions, or NDCs, that each party is supposed to commit to and provide info on to the United Nations.
He also disapproves of the Green Climate Fund, created as part of the United Nations Convention Framework on Climate Change (UNCFCC), under which the Paris Agreement sits, to allocate resources to developing nations that will bear the brunt of climate change’s impacts. Wealthier developed nations, like the United States, that contributed the most to climate change are expected to financially assist the developing world through this fund.
He announced at yesterday’s press conference: “The United States will withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord but begin negotiations to re-enter either the Paris Accord or an entirely new transaction with terms that are fair to the United States, its businesses, its workers, its people, its taxpayers. So we’re getting out, but we will see if we can make a deal that’s fair.”
World leaders have made it clear that is an unlikely option. The leaders of France, Germany and Italy issued a joint statement that the accord is “irreversible” and that they “firmly believe that the Paris Agreement cannot be renegotiated.”
Trump went on to say that the U.S. will have the cleanest water and air without the agreement. “As someone who cares deeply about the environment, which I do,” the president said during the press conference, “I cannot in good conscience support a deal that punishes the United States, which is what it does.”
The Conference of the Parties began in 1995 under the UNCFCC in Berlin to gather world leaders on how to respond to climate change. Twenty years later in Paris, nations decided they would limit global temperature rise this century to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels—via the Paris Agreement. (Climate justice advocates argue the agreement should have set the goal to 1.5 degrees Celsius because anything above that puts island nations at risk.)
The agreement text was finalized during the 2015 Conference of the Parties in Paris and entered into force in November 2016 after gaining 55 signatories. Now, 195 nations have signed on, though 48 still need to ratify. The only countries that did not join the agreement are Syria and Nicaragua. The United States is now the third.
While the agreement was non-binding and any commitments were voluntarily, it was still championed by environmentalists for being a step in the right direction. It was seen as one of former President Barack Obama’s greatest achievements.
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