Trump Recklessly Pulls U.S. out of the Paris Agreement

President Trump has decided to pull the U.S. out of the historic Paris Agreement on climate change. This agreement marked a critical turning point in efforts to address climate change as it included, for the first time, specific commitments from all major countries and a path to strengthen domestic climate action in the years ahead. Trump’s decision is an assault on our children’s future, American companies, and all the countries in the world.

As NRDC’s President Rhea Suh put it:

“This is a grave and grievous mistake that hurts our country—starting now. Trump’s extremism has isolated us from the global coalition we helped to create—with China, Germany, India, Japan and 190 other countries—to fight the central environmental challenge of our time. He’s sidelined American workers in the clean energy boom that's remaking the global economy. And he’s abandoned our children to climate catastrophe. It’s on the rest of us now—state and local officials, business leaders, citizens, educators, consumers, activists and congressional members who grasp the stakes for our future—to keep the promise of Paris alive.”

President Trump announced that he intends to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement following the procedures outlined in the agreement. As the agreement outlines, the U.S. can formally notify the world that it intends to withdraw from the agreement on November 4, 2019 and that withdrawal doesn’t take effect until one year later. So the U.S. won’t be formally out of the Agreement until November 4, 2020—after the end of Trump’s first term. The next Administration should quickly rejoin the Paris Agreement.

TRUMP IS DECIDING TO ALIGN AGAINST THE DESIRES OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, AMERICAN BUSINESSES, WORKERS, AND THE ENTIRE WORLD

President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement goes against the best interest of America as reflected by the broad swath of the U.S. that has argued for staying in the agreement.

The American people overwhelmingly support the Paris Agreement. The vast majority of American—seventy percent—want the US to stay in this agreement (see figure). That includes the majority of Trump voters.

American business strongly support the U.S. remaining in the Agreement. Over 1,100 companies with major operations in the U.S. have urged Trump to stay in the Paris Agreement as they have signed on to letters, joined advertisements, and placed phone calls to the White House. These companies account for over $3.6 trillion in annual revenues and include many of America’s most well-known brands. They include more than one-third of the manufacturing council that Trump put together to advise him on manufacturing issues (such as 3M, Campbell, Corning, Dow, and GE), twenty of the largest and most recognizable companies in America (such as Apple, BP, DuPont, General Mills, Google, Intel, Microsoft, Unilever and Walmart), over 1,000 large and small companies with operations throughout the U.S. (such as Levi Strauss & Co, Campbell Soup Company, Kellogg Company, Johnson & Johnson, and Box Latch Products in Wisconsin), and over 360 business leaders from small and mid-sized American companies (such as representatives from Good Meets World based in Missouri and Ideal Energy from Iowa).

American workers benefit from a growing global clean energy market. There are over 3 million people working in the clean energy sector right now in America (see figure). And there’s going to be $19 trillion in global clean energy investment over the next 30 years as countries move to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement (see figure). America’s workers want the U.S. to stay in the Paris Agreement as reflected in the statements from major labor organizations opposed to this withdrawal (including from the AFL-CIO, SEIU, and United Steel Workers).

Major states and cities want the U.S. to stay-in. Governors and mayors representing major portions of the U.S. population and economic output wants the U.S. to stay in the Paris Agreement. These states taken together would represent the world’s 5th largest economy, 6th largest emitter and 12th most populous country. Their continued commitment can be a major driver in the years to come.  

The entire world strongly supports the Paris Agreement. All key countries around the world rallied behind the Paris Agreement—which entered into force at a historic pace. Only Nicaragua and Syria have signaled that they have no intent to join the Paris Agreement. And the only major emitting countries that haven’t yet formally joined the agreement are Russia and Turkey. With this decision Trump joins Putin as the only major leaders in the world who aren’t on board with the Paris Agreement to address climate change. Trump has decided to become a global pariah while sinking chances that other countries will work with him on his priorities around security, trade, and other diplomatic issues.

CLIMATE ACTION IN THE U.S. AND AROUND THE WORLD WILL CONTINUE

As Trump tries to withdraw from the Paris Agreement it has become clear that he stands alone in his desire to pull the U.S. out of international efforts to address climate change. Companies, states, cities, and citizens want the U.S. to continue efforts both at home and abroad to address climate change. And that’s why we continue to see climate action across the country. 

Unfortunately, this move is a complete reversal from America’s role a couple of months ago. The U.S. played a central leadership role in helping to secure the Paris Agreement and now Trump wants to cede that leadership role to other countries. Other countries are stepping up with the leaders from China, India, Europe, Latin America, and many others reinforcing that they will continue to act aggressively at home to address climate change regardless of what Trump does. No country has signaled that they plan to withdraw from the Paris Agreement if Trump pulls the U.S. out. In fact, in recent days key countries have reinforced their commitment to the Paris Agreement. The commitment to climate action is strong around the world, as Trump will find when he meets with other leaders and sees first-hand how they are continuing to invest more in clean energy.

THE FIGHT WILL GO ON

It is a sad day in America and around the world. But the fight will go on to ensure that we protect our children and grandchildren from the devastating impacts of climate inaction. Trump may try to take us backwards, but America and the world won’t let him get his way.

About the Authors

Jake Schmidt

Director, International program

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