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The Trump Administration has submitted formal notification to the United Nations to officially start the US withdrawal process from the Paris Agreement, according to an announcement made today from the White House.
“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 US pledges made under the Agreement,” said Secretary of State Michael Pompeo in a statement. “The United States has reduced all types of emissions, even as we grow our economy and ensure our citizens’ access to affordable energy.” He also cited statistics that claim carbon emissions and pollutants have declined in recent years. (However, a study this year found that US air pollution is steadily increasing for the first time in a decade.)
The Trump administration first announced its decision to leave the global agreement in June 2017, making the US the only nation in the world to forego terms set forth in 2015 to respond to the threat of climate change by keeping global temperature rise this century below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, at a minimum. The official notification means the withdrawal is scheduled to take effect one year from notification, according to Pompeo.
Proponents of the multilateral agreement argue that the economic benefits of climate change action far outweigh inaction, saving the world an estimated $20 trillion by 2100. Studies suggest that total costs attributed to climate change – from shortened lifespans to increased storm, wildfire, and other natural disasters – could account for 7 percent of the global economy’s gross domestic product. Investing just $1.8 trillion on adaptation measures today could save more than five times that in the future, others argue.
“The United States’ withdrawal from the Paris Agreement creates a massive leadership void in addressing one of the urgent global security issues – climate change,” wrote Richard Morningstar, Founding Chairman of the Global Energy Center and Former US Ambassador to the European Union, in a statement sent to IFLScience.
“Nevertheless, there are solutions to address climate change beyond the Paris Agreement. The United States and the EU have a tremendous opportunity to strengthen transatlantic energy security while reducing carbon emissions through cooperation on advanced technologies,” added Morningstar.
In response to the withdrawal, American policymakers and business leaders have pushed back to implement local initiatives to align with the Agreement. In May, House Democrats voted to pass the Climate Action Now Act, a piece of legislation that was meant to revive the commitment to Agreement goals. As of now, the bill has stalled out in the Senate and it remains unclear whether it will go to vote. At least one-third of American voters have pledged to remain within the Agreement parameters while hundreds of US mayors have committed to upholding agreed-upon goals.