With his announcement to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord, President Donald Trump will discover taking such action is neither simple nor immediate.
Given that the US is one of the leading greenhouse gas emitting countries, pulling out of the Paris accord will make it incredibly difficult for the world to reach the goal of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
Trump’s decision to abandon the pact, signed by his predecessor Barack Obama, has everyone hopping mad, but more importantly it is also prompting some experts to explain the basics of international treaties and accords to the controversial American leader.
“That’s not how it works. The Americans can’t just leave the climate protection agreement,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said yesterday.
“Mr. Trump believes that [he can just walk away] because he doesn’t get close enough to the dossiers to fully understand them,” Juncker said. “So this notion — ‘I am Trump, I am American, America First and I’m going to get out of it’ — that won’t happen. Not everything which is law and not everything in international agreements is fake news, and we have to comply with it.”
It does appear that the Trump administration is aware of what it will take to withdraw, however. Trump pledged to break away from the Paris accord if elected, during the presidential campaign. There is apparently an internal divide in the White House regarding the Paris accords with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson a vocal proponent of the deal. However, their efforts did not win over Trump.
Trump can get out of the Paris deal one of two ways. The first option offers a slow exit from only the Paris Agreement, which would not happen until late 2020 at the earliest. It would be a setback for the Paris deal but keep the US at the negotiating table.
The second option involves removing the US from longstanding climate agreements and essentially withdrawing from major international climate change talks.
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Tom Murphy is a New Hampshire-based reporter for Humanosphere. Before joining Humanosphere, he founded and edited the aid blog “A View From the Cave.” His work has appeared in Foreign Policy, Huffington Post, the Guardian, GlobalPost and Christian Science Monitor. He tweets at @viewfromthecave. Contact him at email@example.com.