Nov 4, 2019

Trump begins formal withdrawal from Paris Climate Agreement

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump got a step closer to pulling America out of the Paris Climate Agreement by sending a withdrawal letter to the United Nations, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced in a statement Monday.

Driving the news: While Trump indicated this intention in June 2017, today marks the first day his administration could begin the formal process, which will be completed on Nov. 4, 2020 — a day after the 2020 presidential election.

Why it matters: While today is more procedural than symbolic in nature, the U.S. beginning the exit process is likely to further dampen the 2015 climate deal's aspirations and remove any slim chance that Trump would ever re-engage on the matter, like he suggested in 2017 he would be willing to.

What they're saying: A White House spokesman didn't comment beyond writing by email that "the president has already announced that the U.S. is not a part of the Paris Climate Agreement."

  • Pompeo wrote 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."

The big picture: The U.S. is the only country in the world not to support the accord, whose goal is to drastically slash greenhouse gas emissions in the coming decades to keep Earth's global temperature from rising 2°C within this century.

Where it stands: The planet's temperature has already increased about 0.8°C since 1880, according to NASA, and the world isn't even close to meeting the Paris goals. In fact, trends are going in the opposite direction. Global carbon dioxide emissions just reached an all-time high.

Reality check: In a Rose Garden speech in June 2017, Trump criticized the accord as a bad deal for America because it allowed China to continue increasing its emissions and because it would hurt the bottom lines of U.S. businesses. But most big companies — even oil producers — say they support the accord.

What we're watching: If a Democrat wins the White House in 2020, he or she would have to submit a letter to rejoin the accord, at which point there is a 30-day delay. The U.S. could then be back into the agreement as soon as Feb. 21, 2021.

Go deeper: Paris + 2: Climate jolted faster than projected

Go deeper

U.S. exit from Paris accord chips away at global climate commitment

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Trump administration's formal notice of its intent to withdraw from the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement drives another nail in the coffin of U.S. ambitions to fight climate change and pushes the world closer to a less stable future.

Why it matters: Because the U.S. ranks as the second-largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, its retreat from the global battle against climate change exacts a heavy toll. This decision weakens pressure on other countries to reduce emissions at a time of peak global temperatures and atmospheric carbon concentrations higher than at any point in human history.

Go deeperArrowNov 5, 2019

UN climate summit opens on heels of sobering emissions data

Photo: Pierre- Philippe Marcou/AFP via Getty Images

COP25, a big United Nations climate summit, opens Monday in Madrid, Spain.

Why it matters: It follows fresh reports in recent days showing how the world is far off track from even beginning the steep emissions cuts needed to meet the Paris agreement's goals.

Go deeperArrowDec 2, 2019

Trump's ticking Paris clock

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?

Go deeperArrowNov 5, 2019