Why Trump Pulled the U.S. Out of the Paris Accord

And What the Consequences Will Be

The Eiffel tower is illuminated in green with the words, "Paris Agreement is Done," in celebration of the Paris U.N. COP21 Climate Change agreement in Paris, France, November 4, 2016. Jacky Naegelen / Reuters

President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement on June 1 was terribly misguided, and his justification for doing so was misleading and untruthful. As he announced in the Rose Garden that day, “The Paris climate accord is simply the latest example of Washington entering into an agreement that disadvantages the United States to the exclusive benefit of other countries, leaving American workers…and taxpayers to absorb the cost in terms of lost jobs, lower wages, shuttered factories, and vastly diminished economic production.” The reality is that leaving the accord will neither bring back jobs nor help the taxpayer, but will most certainly hurt the United States and the world.

The initial reaction from abroad was one of dismay and confusion over what the president was actually trying to say. Trump declared, without seeming to understand the terms and dynamics of the agreement, “I will withdraw from the Paris climate accord but begin negotiations to reenter either the Paris accord or an entirely new transaction on terms that are fair to the United States.” First of all, renegotiation is a nonstarter. If this was not already clear, it was made more so when within hours of the announcement world leaders rebuked the idea. British Prime Minister Theresa May, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Italian Premier Paolo Gentiloni, among many other heads of state expressed their refusal to return to the drawing board.

Even if Washington could renegotiate, it cannot “reenter” the Paris agreement until the end of 2019. The treaty requires that any party wishing to leave wait three years from when the agreement came into force in November 2016. Once withdrawal is initiated, it takes another year of negotiations before the process is complete. This means that the United States will essentially remain in the agreement for the remainder of Trump’s current term as president.

The idea of “unfairness” is equally puzzling since the agreement is

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