Trump Continues to Isolate Himself on Climate Change

The Trump administration sent the first written notice that it intends to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. This historic agreement included, for the first time, clear emissions reduction commitments from all the major countries in the world—including China and India—and a system to keep track of progress towards those commitments. This notice comes as no surprise, but it reinforces how President Trump intends to walk America away from global leadership on climate change and further isolate ourselves from the international community.

Trump first announced in June that the U.S. would abandon its global climate leadership by pulling out of the pact supported by all countries in the world except Syria and Nicaragua. This letter seeks to clarify the intent of President Trump’s speech.

The United States cannot formally submit its intention to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement until November 4, 2019; so in effect today’s notice is legally meaningless and serves as a “heads up to a heads up that we plan to exit.” The withdrawal would then formally take effect one year later on November 4, 2020—one day after the next presidential election. Fortunately, even if Trump does decide to pull the formal trigger to exit, the next President can still rejoin the agreement as soon as 30 days after they enter office—possibly as early as February 19, 2021.

Fortunately, America’s mayors, governors, college and university leaders, businesses, and investors have come together to say “We Are Still In” the Paris Agreement. This diverse coalition recognizes that the majority of Americans disagree with Trump’s decision to put the special interests of the fossil fuel industry ahead of the health and welfare of Americans and communities around the world by refusing to take meaningful action on climate change. And American citizens are sending a clear signal that President Trump may try to take the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement, but they will stand up and say “I’m still in.”

And countries around the world have continued to reinforce that they have no intention of slowing down their climate action. China, India, Latin American countries, and every country in-between has sent clear signals that they are staying in the Paris Climate Agreement. And these countries are showing every day that they intend to continue to move forward with more climate action, more clean energy, and less devastating climate pollution.

We need to send a clear signal to the world that President Trump is alone in not acting on climate change and that other countries should continue to step up the pace of their own climate actions.

About the Authors

Jake Schmidt

Director, International program

Brendan Guy

Manager, International Policy, International program

Han Chen

International Climate Advocate, International and Climate & Clean Air programs

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