The Trump administration acted Monday to kick off the official start of its withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement.
The agreement, signed by then-President Barack Obama in 2016, required that no nation could withdraw during the first three years of the agreement. Monday was the first day the U.S. could submit an official letter to withdraw.
“Today the United States began the process to withdraw from the Paris Agreement,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.
“Per the terms of the Agreement, the United States submitted formal notification of its withdrawal to the United Nations. The withdrawal will take effect one year from delivery of the notification.”
Pompeo noted that the action to withdraw was taken by President Donald Trump to protect Americans.
“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,” Pompeo said.
He said the U.S. did not need the agreement to reduce emissions because it “has reduced all types of emissions, even as we grow our economy and ensure our citizens’ access to affordable energy.”
“In international climate discussions, we will continue to offer a realistic and pragmatic model — backed by a record of real world results — showing innovation and open markets lead to greater prosperity, fewer emissions, and more secure sources of energy,” he added.
“We will continue to work with our global partners to enhance resilience to the impacts of climate change and prepare for and respond to natural disasters.”
Pompeo offered a similar comment 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
“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,” Pompeo tweeted.
Critics were quick to attack the administration’s action.
“America is the number one historical contributor to the climate emergency wreaking havoc in burning California, the flooded Southeast and the rest of the world,” Jean Su, energy director with the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute, said, according to The Guardian.
“The next president must repay this extraordinary climate debt by rapidly moving America to 100 percent clean energy and financing the decarbonization of the Global South,” Su said, referring to developing nations.
Some blamed Trump for the inaction of other nations.
“The Trump Administration’s abandonment of action on climate change gives other countries an excuse not to act either. They ask — if the richest country, the one that has contributed the most to the load of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, isn’t willing to act, why should we?” said Michael Gerrard of Columbia Law School’s climate change legal center, according to USA Today.
“If someone other than Donald Trump is elected, he or she will almost certainly rejoin Paris, and the rest of the world will welcome us back with open arms.”
Maybe not, Jonathan Pershing, an Obama-era State Department special envoy for climate change, told The New York Times.
“The United States has been written off in many cases as a partner,” he said. “You just can’t count on them.”
The agreement’s rules put the U.S. withdrawal on hold for a year, until the day after the 2020 presidential election, meaning that if Trump loses in 2020, a Democrat taking office in January 2021 might still have a chance to rejoin the deal.
But Pershing said getting back in the agreement would require specific policies showing how the United States will move away from fossil fuels and convincing other nations that the next elections will not bring about another change in policy.
When Trump announced that he would withdraw from the agreement, he said that he was doing so to protect American jobs.
“Compliance with the terms of the Paris accord and the onerous energy restrictions it has placed on the United States could cost America as much as 2.7 million lost jobs by 2025 according to the National Economic Research Associates,” Trump said in 2017, according to a White House transcript.
“This includes 440,000 fewer manufacturing jobs — not what we need — believe me, this is not what we need — including automobile jobs, and the further decimation of vital American industries on which countless communities rely. They rely for so much, and we would be giving them so little.”
Trump also said the agreement asked too much of the U.S. and too little of major polluters, such as China.
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