President Trump has announced today that the U.S. will withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement.
“The United States will withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord,” the president said to cheers at a press conference at the White House this afternoon. He added, however, that the U.S. “will begin negotiations to re-enter the Paris Accord, or an entirely new transaction, on terms that are fair to the United States.”
The announcement today will have immediate effects. Trump said the U.S. will “cease all implementation” of the deal, which includes ending national contributions and stopping payments to the Green Climate Fund.
For many, the decision is a devastating setback to a decade of work that culminated in 195 countries agreeing to set limits on carbon emissions, in a coordinated global effort to mitigate the effects of climate change. The U.S. is the world’s second-largest greenhouse gas emitter and would have accounted for 21 percent of the total emission reductions achieved through the agreement.
For others, the decision is disconcerting, not because it could set back efforts to combat climate change, but because of its implications for foreign relations and U.S. diplomatic ties. For big corporations, cleantech businesses and even some fossil fuel companies, leaving Paris creates policy uncertainty and could undermine the ability for American companies to compete on the international stage.
Across the political spectrum, around the globe and in virtually every economic sector there is something for stakeholders to dislike about leaving the Paris Agreement.
For Jim Brainard, the six-term Republican mayor of Carmel, Indiana the concern is leaving the climate agreement will take America in fundamentally wrong direction. Up until the announcement, Brainard was optimistic the U.S. would remain a signatory to the agreement.
“The president keeps talking about being the leader of a great country,” the mayor said. “If he wants to be the leader of a great country: Number one, we need to keep our word. Number two, we need to remember that great countries provide clean air for their citizens to breathe, great countries provide clean water for their citizens to drink, great countries lead the world when there is a problem. Great countries do not become dependent on fossil fuels coming from other counties in case of a war or other conflict. Great countries look for economic opportunities for their citizens, to design, patent and manufacture everything from wind turbines, to solar panels, to hydro equipment, to batteries, to coal power — all of these great products that the world is clamoring for.”
“I understand this is an accord signed by the present in the last term, and was not ratified by the Senate,” said Brainard. “However, he was the leader of our country, fairly elected, and absent some national defense issue we ought to keep our word when the president signs on behalf of the United States.”
Other Republicans have a different view. White House advisor Steve Bannon, and conservative groups like the Heritage Foundation and the Competitive Enterprise Institute have been actively pressuring Trump to leave the global accord.
“The Paris Climate Agreement promises no measurable climate benefits at an incredible economic and political cost to Americans,” said CEI’s director of its Center for Energy and Environment Myron Ebell, in a statement ahead of the official announcement. “By getting out of the agreement, President Trump is leading the world toward a brighter future as low energy prices over the long-term will benefit consumers and energy-intensive industries.
Exiting the agreement would also “safeguard Americans’ ability to self-govern without foreign influence, dispel the long shadow over our economic and energy future, and expand access to affordable energy around the globe, helping eradicate poverty at home and abroad,” he said.
We will update this story with additional information as it becomes available, and share reactions from the business community.