Last Thursday President Trump announced he would be pulling the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement. The United States joins Syria and Nicaragua as the only countries in the world not to sign on to the plan, however Nicaragua has not signed on because they think it doesn’t go far enough to protect against polluters, and Syria has been engaged in a bloody civil war for years.
So what are Trump’s reasons for leaving? Trump said it harms U.S. Industry with regulations and would be a burden to the economy, Trump also argued the point that we would be paying billions to other countries. But is any of that true? Well under the agreement each country would set its goal for emission reductions, so technically the economic burden on us would be whatever we decide it to be. Trump made the point he wants to renegotiate the deal, but how is it possible to renegotiate a deal that we have complete control over? Even funding that goes to other countries is completely voluntary, so that begs the question why did we leave? Well that’s a highly speculated question and it has left the science community in shock. Susan Biniaz, who served at the state department as the lead climate change lawyer from 1989 until earlier this year said “It seems very unnecessary to have to withdraw from the Paris agreement if the concern is focused on the U.S. emissions target and financial contributions. The U.S. can unilaterally change its emissions target under the agreement — it doesn’t have to ‘renegotiate’ it — and financial contributions are voluntary.” Biniaz is just one of many members of the science community confused with the decision to leave the agreement. So what does it mean for the U.S. now that we have pulled out of the agreement? Well, a lot of states and major cities in the U.S. have stated they are going to follow the Paris Accord’s guidelines that were set by the Obama administration.
One of the states that has said it will still follow the agreement is Minnesota. Governor Mark Dayton said in a statement shortly after the announcement to pull out of the agreement, “President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Change Agreement is terrible for our state, nation, and world. It will cause irreparable damage to our environment and our economy. It will withdraw the United States, the largest energy consumer in the world, from the collective efforts to reduce severe environmental damage before it is too late. As damaging as this decision will be, it will not deter our efforts here in Minnesota. We will show the world what we can achieve by working together to conserve energy, to use cleaner and renewable energy, and to leave a livable planet to our children and grandchildren.” So what does that mean for us here in Minnesota? Well, directly we aren’t going to see a lot of changes in taxes and regulations considering Minnesota has been on this trend for nearly 8 years since Dayton took office, and most of Dayton’s environmental legislation is already in place.
Minnesota’s environmental goals include reducing Greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050 and to improve water quality 6 to 8 percent by 2034. Some of the other states that have vowed to honor the agreement include California, New York, Illinois, Washington, Oregon, and multiple others. What was the rest of the worlds reaction to us pulling out of the Paris Agreement? The response was very negative to say the least. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said “We are deeply disappointed that the United States federal government has decided to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. Canada is unwavering in our commitment to fight climate change and support clean economic growth.” Newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron said in a statement thursday “To all scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, responsible citizens who were disappointed by the decision of the United States, I want to say that they will find in France a second homeland, I call on you to remain confident. We will succeed because we are fully committed, because wherever we live, whoever we are, we all share the same responsibility: Make our planet great again.” Other countries including China and Japan were also critical of the United States’ decision to leave, However, Russian President Vladimir Putin refused to condem Trump’s decision to leave.
So what is going to happen next? Well, the short answer is nothing yet because The United States can’t officially leave the agreement until November 4th, 2020. Even if nothing changes in that time and the U.S. still pulls out, a future administration could always rejoin the agreement.