“I will be announcing my decision on the Paris Accord over the next few days. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” Trump tweeted on Wednesday morning at the 31 million accounts that follow him.
Back in 2015, many of the world’s leaders hammered out the specifics of the Paris deal, which calls on all nations to reduce their carbon emissions in order to curb global temperatures from rising 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.
When the accord was ratified by former President Barack Obama in September 2016, it was estimated the United States would need to lower its greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent to meet the stated goals. Exactly how these targets would be met was intentionally open to interpretation, with individual nations deciding what measures were best for them.
One major source of emissions in the United States is coal, an industry Trump has repeatedly said he wants to revive. On the campaign trail, for example, he promised, “We will put our miners back to work.” Many experts, however, say that even disregarding the environmental consequences of coal, reviving the coal industry isn’t really possible, given mechanization and coal’s losing competition with natural gas.
So far, Trump hasn’t made good on his campaign promise to withdraw, which some have seen as the influence of his daughter, Ivanka Trump, who has advised her father to stick with the agreement.
But just a few days ago, while meeting with the G7 leaders, Trump appeared to give early signs of his intention to withdraw. While the other G7 nations reaffirmed their commitment to to the Paris deal, Trump, on behalf of the United States, did not.
If the numerous reports coming in are right, and Trump does withdraw from the accord, exactly how he will do it remains unknown. The agreement states that the United States must stay in the deal for four years, but Trump could withdraw from the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change with just a year’s notice. This would take the [United States] out of the Paris Agreement, and also out of all international efforts to cooperate on climate change action. This is the nuclear option.
Regardless of the method, pulling out of the accord would have consequences. The United States is one of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases in the world. Giving up on our commitment to curbing emissions would mean we continue spewing out carbon at current rates. It may also discourage other nations from fulfilling their part of the agreement, rapidly unraveling any progress that’s been made.