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After months of delays and rumors of a divided White House, President Trump is announcing today his intent to withdraw from the international Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, abdicating leadership on climate change.
Despite the public pronouncement, the US cannot simply quit Paris and go home. Per the terms of the agreement, the US cannot submit its withdrawal until November 2019, and it wouldn’t formally be out for at least a year after that.
In the meantime, the Trump Administration could choose to skip international talks, but it will still have to submit some progress reports required by the deal. Of course, nothing stops President Trump from continuing to reverse Obama Administration efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, support renewable energy production, or encourage efficiency improvements. Presumably, the US will also renege on the remaining $2 billion of its promised $3 billion contribution (with more in the future) to the Green Climate Fund meant to help less-developed nations deal with the consequences of climate change and invest in renewable energy.
Speculation about this decision has been rampant since the election in November, as the issue was not as simple as a candidate who has publicly rejected climate science wanting out of a climate agreement. Many within the Trump Administration, including Secretary of State and former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson and Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, have argued for staying in the agreement, which was signed by nearly every country in the world. Most fossil fuel companies have at least publicly stated the same desire, including the (current) CEOs of Shell and Exxon.
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