USA to 'renegotiate' Paris Agreement

02 June 2017

The USA is to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change, with the aim of renegotiating its contribution, President Donald Trump has announced. The global reaction has been a mixture of dismay and determination to follow through on Paris commitments.

Trump announced his intentions yesterday, confirming a campaign promise after discussing the matter with several overseas leaders including the G-7.

"So we're getting out," said Trump, "but we will start to negotiate, and we will see if we can make a deal that's fair. And if we can, that's great. And if we can't, that's fine. As President, I can put no other consideration before the wellbeing of American citizens."

The deal agreed in Paris in 2015 saw virtually every country in the world commit to voluntary contributions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Under President Barack Obama the USA pledged to reduce emissions by 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025 and to make best efforts to reduce by 28%. Each country is free to determine its own route to fulfil its commitments, which are not binding and come with no enforcement mechanism.

Another aspect of the Paris Agreement was the Green Climate Fund, administered by the UN and intended to supply $100 billion per year to support mitigation and adaptation in developing countries. Obama transferred $1 billion to the fund before leaving office. Trump called this "another scheme to redistribute wealth out of the United States... on top of America's existing and massive foreign aid payments".

The withdrawal process for any given country can only be completed three years after the agreement has come into force. This means the USA cannot officially leave until 4 November 2020, which falls one day after the next presidential election.

In terms of renegotiation, contributions to the Green Climate Fund are voluntary and there is no official process for changing Washington's voluntary contribution. However, the treaty's success was based on mutual acceptance by all countries - including China, India and the USA - of each others' voluntary contributions being fair in terms of levels of development, wealth and historic emissions.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry said: "The United States will continue to be actively engaged in the development of global energy and the world leader in the development of next generation technology. That is exactly why I am traveling to Japan and China to discuss the benefits of all forms of energy, including nuclear, fossil, LNG and renewables."


Several US states and cities have said they would continue to pursue Paris goals. Mike Bloomberg, former mayor of New York and the UN Secretary General's Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change said: "Americans are not walking away from the Paris Climate Agreement, just the opposite, we are forging ahead. Mayors, governors, and business leaders from both political parties are signing onto a statement of support that we will submit to the UN - and together, we will reach the emission reduction goals the US made in Paris in 2015."

He added: "As a sign of our commitment, Bloomberg Philanthropies, in partnership with others, will make up the approximately $15 million in funding that the UN's Climate Secretariat stands to lose from Washington. Americans will honor and fulfill the Paris Agreement by leading from the bottom up – and there isn't anything Washington can do to stop us."

Internationally, the UN called Trump's move "a major disappointment for global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote global security."

Speaking for the European Union, Miguel Arias Cañete, commissioner for climate action and energy, said, "The EU deeply regrets the unilateral decision by the Trump administration to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement... Today's announcement has galvanised us rather than weakened us, and this vacuum will be filled by new broad committed leadership. Europe and its strong partners all around the world are ready to lead the way. We will work together to face one of the most compelling challenges of our time."

Founder of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, Michael Liebreich said, "Far from encouraging other countries to quit Paris, [US withdrawal] will strengthen their resolve. The EU and India must now deliver or be humiliated... This will spur a tidal wave of climate action by US states, cities, businesses and citizens. I bet the US will meet its Paris 2030 pledge."

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News