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President Trump officially began the year-long process of removing the United States from the Paris Agreement on Nov. 4. He announced his plan and stopped making efforts to meet the United State’s Paris Agreement pledge two years prior.
The Paris Agreement was signed by over 190 countries in 2015 to combat climate change by lowering greenhouse gas emissions. Former President Obama signed the agreement during his presidency, pledging the United States to cut greenhouse gas emissions between 26% and 28% below the country’s emissions in 2005, 7339.0 million tons. The agreement stated that the emissions would be cut by 2025, and $3 billion would be spent towards helping developing countries fight climate change and that the United States couldn’t withdraw until 2020. The United States is the only country that has rejected the agreement and is the second-largest global emitter of greenhouse gasses.
Senior Amelia Batson said, “Climate change is an urgent issue in the world and we need to be doing everything we can to slow its progression and effects. The Paris Agreement was an easy step that the U.S. could take to join a global effort and commit to reducing their emissions.”
Trump pledged in 2017 to withdraw in 2020 and said that his administration was not going to work towards the Paris Agreement commitments. The State Department has not presented documents with evidence of what the United States has done to the Paris Agreement for two years.
The House, which is democratic by a majority, approved a bill, which was 231 to 190, preventing Trump from withdrawing the United States from the agreement. The bill was stopped at Senate, which the majority of its members are republican. Trump sent the Paris Agreement the official paperwork Nov. 4, the earliest possible date that the agreement allows, to pull the United States out of the agreement.
Ninth grader Sila Liljedahl said, “I was really disappointed. This is our only hope and I know that it’s not a huge thing but it’s the only thing that we have right now that’s going to actually move us forward.”
“I wasn’t exactly surprised that the U.S. withdrew, given Trump’s strong belief that climate change isn’t real and his support for the coal industry. His decision to leave the Paris Agreement seems in line with his beliefs,” Batson said.
If Trump is reelected, the United States will officially be removed from the Paris Agreement the day after the 2020 presidential election. If Trump is not reelected, it is not known if the United States will smoothly reenter the agreement.
“I think that the U.S. would rejoin the Paris Agreement if a democratic president is elected in 2020. All of the candidates feel very strongly about the need to fight climate change and cut emissions, so I think that most of them would move very quickly to rejoin the Paris Agreement if elected. I think that the Paris Agreement would probably let the U.S. back in because they need all the support they can get and the U.S. is an influential leader,” Batson said.
Leaving the Paris Agreement is not the only thing the Trump administration has done to push back on agreements set to lower greenhouse gas emissions. They revoke a waiver from the Clean Air Act to set stricter levels of automobile tailpipe pollution in California. The Justice Department sued California Oct. 23 to stop a regional program that had the goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions because Quebec is a part of the program, which goes against the constitutional law that states can’t make treaties with foreign governments.
Sophomore Grant Mortenson said, “I personally really dislike that decision. I definitely believe that we need to work together to put a stop to CO2 emissions to limit as much of it that we put into the environment as possible. And between that and the drilling and mining in the Boundary waters and everything. He’s not doing the best job of maintaining the relationship we have with the earth.”
“It tells us that our government does not care about climate change and that they do not want to be part of a global effort to stop it,” Batson said.
The Paris Agreement is concerned that the lack of the United States participating, will give permission to other countries to pull out also. China and India are developing countries according to the United Nations, and therefore do not need to be a part of any efforts to lower emissions. They joined the agreement because the United States joined, but China refused to increase their efforts even though predictions show greenhouse gas emissions rising until 2030.
The main goal of the Paris Agreement is to limit greenhouse gas emissions enough to limit global warming to 1.5 °C. Currently, if greenhouse gas emissions remain as they are now, warming will increase to 4.1 °C to 4.8 °C. If all of the Paris Agreement pledges are met, the warming will still increase to 2.7 °C to 3.0 °C. Climate Central reported that in order for the Paris Agreement’s main goal to be met, at least 70% to 80% of all the global energy supply will have to switch to renewable energy by 2050.