Nov 5, 2019 - Energy & Environment

Trump's ticking Paris clock

The UN symbol as a drawing of Trump turns his back away from it.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The U.S. started the one-year clock this week to formally abandon the Paris climate deal.

One big question: Will the U.S. move affect other big polluters' climate efforts, especially as new national pledges under the pact come due next year?

  • Andrew Light of the World Resources Institute says the U.S. was a key player in getting other nations to put up meaningful pledges in the first round a half-decade ago.
  • The question now, he tells me, is to what extent other nations step forward and fill that role as countries craft their updated submissions.

Where it stands: The federal posture going forward depends on the 2020 election outcome. The NYT's Lisa Friedman reports that "supporters of the pact say they have to plan for a future without American cooperation."

Speaking of the election, every Democratic White House candidate has pledged to re-enter the pact, which can happen relatively fast under its rules.

  • One thing to watch, however, is if President Trump's move shakes loose how exactly the candidates would write the updated U.S. pledge (called a "nationally determined contribution").
  • The next U.S. target would extend through 2030, and Light says what's important is not only the targeted emissions-cutting level. “The next president is going to have to not only articulate a number, but explain how they can do this," he said.

The intrigue: Trump's rejection of Paris puts him at least rhetorically at odds with some major corporate interests.

  • But for all the chatter about K Street splitting with Trump on climate, two key groups — the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable — kept a low profile yesterday.

What they're saying: If you asked the Chamber, you got this statement: "The Chamber supports U.S. participation in the Paris Agreement because greater collaboration between governments and businesses is essential to tackling the climate challenge."

  • It notes that they're an observer at UN climate talks and will keep working with overseas business partners on the matter.
  • The Business Roundtable, in response to a query, said: "Whether or not the U.S. is participating in this international agreement, Business Roundtable supports actions designed to address risks associated with the changing climate."

Go deeper: Trump begins formal withdrawal from Paris Climate Agreement

Go deeper