President Trump is pulling us out of the Paris Climate Agreement. You`ve probably seen the headlines – the U.S. government is reconsidering its participation in the Paris Agreement, the historic United Nations climate agreement that unites all nations to fight the global challenge of climate change. As experts and advisers discuss the value of keeping the U.S. in this agreement, here are seven reasons why participation in the Paris Agreement is important to the U.S. — and the climate agreement itself. While the U.S. officially announced it would leave the Paris Agreement in November 2020, a coalition of cities and states (specifically California) agreed in 2017 that it would abide by the Paris Climate Agreement and reduce U.S. emissions by 26 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. The NRDC is working to make the Global Climate Action Summit a success by encouraging more ambitious commitments to the historic 2015 agreement and initiatives to reduce pollution. The desire for a more ambitious goal was maintained in the deal – with the promise to further limit global temperatures to 1.5°C. The agreement recognises the role of non-party actors in the fight against climate change, including cities, other sub-national authorities, civil society, the private sector and others.
The Kyoto Protocol, a landmark environmental treaty adopted at COP3 in Japan in 1997, is the first time that countries have agreed on country-specific emission reduction targets that are legally mandated. The protocol, which only entered into force in 2005, set binding emission reduction targets only for developed countries, based on the assumption that they were responsible for most of the Earth`s high greenhouse gas emissions. The United States first signed the agreement, but never ratified it; President George W. Bush argued that the deal would hurt the U.S. economy because it would not include developing countries such as China and India. Without the participation of these three countries, the effectiveness of the treaty proved limited, as its objectives covered only a small fraction of total global emissions. Recognizing that many developing countries and small island states that have contributed the least to climate change could suffer the most from its consequences, the Paris Agreement includes a plan for developed countries – and others that are “able to do so” – to continue to provide funds to help developing countries mitigate and increase their resilience to climate change. The agreement builds on financial commitments from the 2009 Copenhagen Accord, which aimed to increase public and private climate finance for developing countries to $100 billion a year by 2020. (To put this in perspective, global military spending in 2017 alone amounted to about $1.7 trillion, more than a third of which came from the United States.) The Copenhagen Compact also created the Green Climate Fund to help mobilize transformative financing with targeted public funds. The Paris Agreement set hope that the world would set a higher annual target by 2025 to build on the $100 billion target for 2020 and put in place mechanisms to achieve that scale.
Since Trump`s announcement, U.S. envoys have continued to participate in UN climate talks as required to solidify the details of the deal. Meanwhile, thousands of leaders across the country have stepped in to fill the void created by the lack of federal climate leadership, reflecting the will of the vast majority of Americans who support the Paris Agreement. Among city and state leaders, business leaders, universities, and individuals, there has been a wave of participation in initiatives such as America`s Pledge, the U.S. Climate Alliance, We Are Still In, and the American Cities Climate Challenge. Complementary and sometimes overlapping movements aim to deepen and accelerate efforts to combat climate change at local, regional and national levels. Each of these efforts is focused on the U.S. working toward the goals of the Paris Agreement, despite Trump`s attempts to steer the country in the opposite direction.
The authors of the deal have built a withdrawal schedule that President Trump must follow – and prevent it from irreparably harming our climate. .