The Trump Administration filed their intent to leave the Paris Agreement on November 4th, the first day this was allowed after the initial three-year binding commitment from 2016. The Paris Agreement is an international attempt of taking action against climate change together.

Climate change, caused by human actions such as burning fossil fuels, has been documented over many years and is believed to be the reason behind crop failures, outbreaks of disease, more frequent extreme weather, and the rise of sea level, just to mention a few.

President Donald Trump (left), Brigitte Macron, Melania Trump, and French President Emmanuel Macron at a tree planting ceremony at the White House, Washington, April 23, 2018.
Photo Credit: Andrew Harnik, AP

In 2017, China and the U.S. were the world’s biggest contributors of CO2 emissions at 29% and 16%. But when measured per capita or cumulatively across time, the U-S quickly becomes the number one emitter.

The first was the Kyoto Protocol in the 1990s. But when the Clinton Administration brought this back to the Senate for internal approval, it was declined so the U.S. could not officially ratify the protocol and commit. As a result, the U.S. did not participate in the initial efforts against climate change. Recognizing this problem, the Obama administration participated heavily in the cultivation of the second phase of global action starting in 2009, except this time, they called it an ‘agreement’.

Although internationally there is no difference whether it is called a protocol, an agreement, or otherwise. In the U.S. there is a clear separation. By titling it this way, it allowed former President Barak Obama to ratify the Paris Agreement through an executive agreement in September of 2016, without needing the Senate’s consent. However, only 10 months later, newly elected President Donald Trump turned announced he wanted the U.S. to leave the Paris Agreement.

A map of countries participating in the Paris Climate Agreement as of November 5th, 2019
Photo Source: @StatistaCharts and UNFCC

As of 2019, 196 states plus the European union have signed the Paris Climate Agreement. The EU, and 183 nations, including Russia recently, have ratified the agreement. Whether the United States will finally leave the Agreement will depend on the outcome of next year’s U.S. presidential election and the stance of the new president.

For an Explanation of The Paris Agreement, you may watch the explainer video below from Track 0:

(Assignment piece during Master’s Program)