President Trump has made his decision on the Paris climate accord. Now the rest of the world will make up its mind on him.
In all likelihood, Trump has decided the United States will leave the international accord on lowering emissions, the crowning environmental achievement of his predecessor’s presidency.
“President Trump is still undecided but leaning toward withdrawing the United States from the landmark Paris climate agreement, White House officials said Wednesday, a move that would honor a campaign vow but risk rupturing global alliances and disappointing both environmentalists and corporate titans,” Philip Rucker, Chris Mooney and Brady Dennis report. “Although officials warned that Trump’s thinking could shift before he announces his decision Thursday, a U.S. exit from the climate pact could have severe ramifications internationally.”
With a tweet, Trump told the world he will announce his decision at 3 p.m. on Thursday, teasing a Rose Garden speech like it’s a season finale of “The Apprentice.” He similarly signaled the announcement to reporters at the White House on Wednesday, telling them: “You’re going to find out very soon.”
Greenhouse-gas emissions in the United States may rise if the president removes the country from the accord. But it’s not clear that will happen in the rest of the world — or what impact any of this will have on U.S. foreign policy goals. It looks like the United States will join a small club of only two other nations, Syria and Nicaragua, in rejecting the Paris plan. The ripples from Trump’s decision to maroon the country on that lonely diplomatic island will take years to spread out.
In the short term, the reaction from more than 190 other countries that signed onto the accord may be purely rhetorical, one that both rebukes the U.S. decision and recommits to a Paris agreement now without the world’s second-largest carbon emitter. With or without U.S. participation, the nations that have already put into gear emissions-reduction plans to hit their modest initial targets likely won’t pull back yet.
But the long-term decisions of the Paris accord members may be more dire for the prospects of both maintaining the agreement itself and, in turn, of averting the worst warming projections if U.S. abdication gives other countries pause.
“What’s worrisome in the longer terms is what happens when there’s the next round of negotiation over future commitments,” said David Konisky, a political scientist at Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs.
He added: “The U.S. withdrawing gives license to some nations to put the brakes on deeper efforts at decarbonization.”
Read more at The Washington Post.