The Trump administration has formally notified the United Nations of its plans to pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord, the international agreement to reduce emissions into which every other nation in the world — from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe — has agreed to enter.
When the U.S. pull-out goes into effect next November, it will leave the coalition without the world’s second-leading emitter of greenhouse gases, forcing other member nations to reconsider their strategies for achieving the goals set forth in the agreement.
Trump first announced his intention to pull the U.S. out of the agreement during a June 2017 ceremony at the White House Rose Garden. “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris,” the president said. He later noted that “we don’t want other leaders and other countries laughing at us anymore,” equating America’s subscription to such a broad international agreement as a sign of weakness.
Trump also harped that the agreement was hamstringing the U.S. economy, an argument echoed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a statement released Monday. “President Trump made the decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement because of the unfair economic burden imposed on American workers, businesses, and taxpayers by U.S. pledges made under the Agreement,” he wrote.
Pompeo first announced the news on Twitter.
Today we begin the formal process of withdrawing from the Paris Agreement. The U.S. is proud of our record as a world leader in reducing all emissions, fostering resilience, growing our economy, and ensuring energy for our citizens. Ours is a realistic and pragmatic model.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) November 4, 2019
So if Trump knew he wanted to pull the U.S. out of the agreement since 2017, what took so long for the administration to notify the U.N.? Under the rules of the agreement, no nation could opt out of it for three years. The agreement officially went into effect on November 4th, 2016, so the Trump administration’s notification to the U.N. on Monday came on the first day it was eligible send one. There is still a one-year waiting period before the opt-out takes effect, however, which means the U.S. will not be officially removed from the agreement until November 4th, 2020, one day after the next presidential election.
The pull-out date adds a concrete marker of climate urgency to the election. Every Democratic presidential candidate has pledged to rejoin the agreement, which they will be able to do relatively quickly once in office. If Trump is re-elected, however, the U.S. will continue to spiral into its own ignorance of the climate crisis as the rest of the world struggles to battle rising global temperatures.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday over 11,200 scientists from over 150 countries released a report warning that the world “clearly and unequivocally faces a climate emergency,” while providing a handful of policy goals. “Despite 40 years of global climate negotiations, with few exceptions, we have generally conducted business as usual and have largely failed to address this predicament,” the study reads.