US withdrawal from Paris climate agreement resources

Friday, June 2, 2017

President Donald Trump has announced that the U.S. will withdraw from the Paris climate agreement reached in 2015.  Here is a quick roundup of relevant resources.

On December 12, 2015, the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change adopted Decision 1/CP.21, adopting the Paris Agreement under that convention.  The Paris climate accord calls for signatories to limit the increase in the global average temperature to "well below" 2 °C above pre-industrial levels (and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels), to support adaptation and resilience to climate change's impacts, and to align finance flows with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development.

Since its adoption, 195 countries have signed off, including the U.S.  President Obama announced U.S. ratification of the Paris agreement in September 2016, along with China.  Among members of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, only Syria and Nicaragua are are not parties to the Paris Agreement.

But President Trump had criticized the deal, and on June 1, 2017, announced that "the United States will withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord... but begin negotiations to reenter either the Paris Accord or a really entirely new transaction on terms that are fair to the United States, its businesses, its workers, its people, its taxpayers."

According to President Trump's statement, "the United States will cease all implementation of the non-binding Paris Accord and the draconian financial and economic burdens the agreement imposes on our country.  This includes ending the implementation of the nationally determined contribution and, very importantly, the Green Climate Fund which is costing the United States a vast fortune."

President Trump also addressed the integration of renewable energy sources into the grid, expressing skepticism that renewables could suffice in an era of increased U.S. economic expansion:
At 1 percent growth, renewable sources of energy can meet some of our domestic demand, but at 3 or 4 percent growth, which I expect, we need all forms of available American energy, or our country ... will be at grave risk of brownouts and blackouts, our businesses will come to a halt in many cases, and the American family will suffer the consequences in the form of lost jobs and a very diminished quality of life.
At several times, the President expressed interest in renegotiating the terms of the Paris Agreement or some "new deal":
I’m willing to immediately work with Democratic leaders to either negotiate our way back into Paris, under the terms that are fair to the United States and its workers, or to negotiate a new deal that protects our country and its taxpayers... And we’ll sit down with the Democrats and all of the people that represent either the Paris Accord or something that we can do that's much better than the Paris Accord.   
A White House press release provided additional information from the administration's perspective.  It calls the U.S. "already the world's energy leader," and cites an analysis prepared by NERA for the American Council for Capital Formation and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for 21st Century Energy which found that "meeting President Obama’s commitment under the Paris Climate Accord would cost the United States nearly $3 trillion by 2040".  The press release notes that under the Paris agreement "the United States would carry the burden while other countries would get the benefits," and that full international compliance with the Paris agreement "would barely impact the climate."

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