President-elect Donald Trump has sworn to back out of the Paris climate deal — a move that could potentially tank the historic multi-nation agreement, or at least make it extremely hard to implement.
Trump, who has shrugged off climate change as a Chinese hoax, has called the Paris agreement “bad for business.”
“We’re going to rescind all the job-destroying Obama executive actions, including the climate action plan,” Trump vowed during a speech last May in North Dakota, the heart of oil country. “We’re going to cancel the Paris climate agreement, and stop all payments of the United States tax dollars to U.N. global warming programs.”
Trump has also vowed to build the Keystone XL pipeline and “save the coal industry.”
Trump’s election came days after the Paris deal came into force, and as leaders met in Morocco to put the deal into tangible action. But it’s not only possible but quite easy for Trump to back out of the deal, according to Climate Central. Withdrawal could be as simple as removing the U.S. from the 1992 climate convention that set the stage for Paris. Another option is for Trump to wait the mandatory three years set out in the Paris deal, and then withdraw. Or, he could turn his back on the initiatives put in place under Obama administration and make no effort to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.
That’s a danger that goes beyond the U.S.; pulling out would politically signal to other countries that they too can back out of the deal, which would pose a huge setback as the world attempts to slow a rapidly warming planet.
Look at the numbers: Under Obama, the U.S. was a huge force behind reaching the threshold needed for the deal to come into effect — that is, 55 countries making up 55 percent of total global greenhouse gas emissions. The U.S. is the second-largest global emitter, with about 18 percent of the world’s total greenhouse gases. As it stands now, 103 countries have signed on, representing 73 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
But consider if the U.S. quits the deal. Without America’s 18 percent of emissions, other nations could follow Trump in neglecting the agreement.
Fearful of what they dubbed a “Parexit,” nearly 400 scientists penned a letter in September warning that withdrawing from the “vital” deal would have “severe and long-lasting” consequences.
“A ‘Parexit’ would send a clear signal to the rest of the world: ‘The United States does not care about the global problem of human-caused climate change. You are on your own,’” they wrote. “Such a decision would make it far more difficult to develop effective global strategies for mitigating and adapting to climate change.”
“The ice caps don’t negotiate, and neither do rising seas,” Sierra Club national political director Khalid Pitts warned in a statement days before the election. “Donald Trump’s moral failure to acknowledge the climate crisis might very well mean planetary disaster.”
NASA has warned the earth’s temperature continues to break records in 2016, with the first six months of this year clocking in as “the warmest half-year on record” since 1880.