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It’s official: The U.S. is now the only country in the world to pull out of the Paris climate agreement.
President Donald Trump announced in June of 2017 that he intended to leave the only international agreement to keep the planet from warming more than 2 degrees Celsius. But Monday was the earliest that his administration could officially let the UN know it’d be withdrawing from the agreement, which 197 countries signed onto.
The U.S. won’t officially be out of the agreement until Nov. 4, 2020, just one day after the presidential election. Every viable Democratic presidential candidate has promised to keep the U.S. in the agreement.
“President Trump made the decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement because of the unfair economic burden imposed on American workers, businesses, and taxpayers by U.S. pledges made under the Agreement,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said. “The United States has reduced all types of emissions, even as we grow our economy and ensure our citizens’ access to affordable energy.”
Greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. actually ticked up in 2018 as the economy grew. People flew and drove more and industrial emissions spiked.
The move is more administrative than anything else, since the Trump administration has long made clear its intention to pull out of the agreement. But it does mean that there’s little hope that Trump will change his mind and stay in the agreement, as he indicated he might back in 2017.
Whether the U.S. ultimately stays in the agreement may hinge on whether Trump wins reelection in 2020. But that’s not stopping other countries, local governments, and business from planning for a future of international climate change diplomacy where the U.S. has no role at all, according to the New York Times.
Even in the U.S., the Paris agreement is widely popular. When Trump announced that he’d take the U.S. out of the agreement, 59% of Americans opposed his move, according to a Washington Post–ABC News poll at the time.
Since then, the urgency of climate change has only become clearer to voters: A September Washington Post–Kaiser Family Foundation poll, found that 79% believed that human activity was causing climate change, and 38% — up from under a 25% five years ago — see climate change as a “crisis.”
Cover image: Extinction Rebellion protests. Extinction Rebellion protester dressed as Donald Trump hands out leaflets in the South Terminal at Gatwick Airport during an Extinction Rebellion (XR) climate change protest. Picture date: Thursday October 17, 2019. See PA story ENVIRONMENT Protests. Photo credit should read: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire URN:47316573 (Press Association via AP Images)