By Editors of Power Engineering
Donald Trump has announced the United States will withdraw from participation in the Paris climate agreement, though the country will respect the process laid out by the agreement.
Formally exiting the agreement will take four years to complete, meaning the process would not complete until after the next presidential election, the New York Times reported.
Trump’s secretary of state Rex Tillerson has argued for keeping the United States in the Paris accord, as has ExxonMobil, the company he previously headed. EPA head Scott Pruitt supports an exit from the agreement, as do 22 Republican senators.
The agreement, negotiated in 2015 and supported by the Obama administration, was signed by 190 countries and has been fully joined by 147 of them so far. It’s also backed by large companies that would be affected by the accord, including Royal Dutch Shell, BP and Exxon Mobil.
Lisa Jacobson, president of The Business Council for Sustainable Energy, also urged the United States remain in the agreement.
“The Council has been an active business participant in international climate change discussions for the past 25 years, and we caution against a withdrawal from the Paris Agreement and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change,” she said. “The United States has achieved a position of leadership in this inter-governmental process, and American guidance has been critical in creating a framework that is inclusive of all countries, transparent and protects the innovation and investments of American companies.”
The stated goal of the Paris Agreement is to strengthen the global response to climate change and cap the global temperature rise in the 21st century to well below two degrees Celsius, with an aim to keep it to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
The agreement seeks to reach these goals with financial flows, new technological framework and enhanced capacity building framework to support action by developing countries and especially vulnerable countries.
Each country has set its own goals. The United States has pledged to reduce its carbon emissions by 26 percent to 28 percent below its 2005 levels by 2025, and to make its best efforts to reduce emissions by 28 percent. The agreement noted the target is “fair and ambitious.”
The U.S. target covers emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, perfluorocarbons, hydrofluorocarbons, sulfur hexafluoride and nitrogen triflouride.
However, the Paris Agreement isn’t legally binding.
Leaving the Paris Agreement would take years, though it could weaken the agreement’s goals immediately, as the United States is now the world’s second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases.