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President Trump’s Withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord

By John Baglia on Sunday, June 11th, 2017
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On June 1, 2017, President Donald Trump announced the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord, an agreement amongst 195 countries to reduce their climate changing emissions in an attempt to curb the increase in global temperatures.[1] When signing the agreement in 2016, President Obama aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28% in a decade.[2] However, many fear Trump’s decision may bring that goal to an end. By withdrawing, the U.S. joins Syria and Nicaragua as the only countries worldwide that are not a part of the agreement.[3] While announcing his decision, President Trump stated, “[t]he Paris accord is very unfair at the highest level to the United States,”[4] sparking immediate backlash. With climate change being an issue of global concern, what prompted this widely unpopular decision?

First, and possibly most controversial, President Trump has referred to climate change as a “hoax,” despite clear science to the contrary.[5] Second, Trump is openly skeptical of international agreements, like the Paris Accord, which he rejected as a defeat for America and its workers at the benefit of foreign countries.[6] Lastly, Trump believes the Obama administration’s regulations and spending in order to meet its goals of reducing GHG emissions will have a negative effect on economic growth.[7] This is highlighted by the fact that the newly appointed head of the Environmental Protection Agency, a skeptic of climate change himself, is already halting the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan.[8] The Clean Power Plan was President Obama’s strategy to reduce GHG emissions from fossil fuel power plants in the US.[9] Whatever his true motivation and reasoning, President Trump was adamant upon fulfilling his campaign promise to withdraw, despite pleading for him to remain a part of the agreement from members of his own administration, including his daughter Ivanka.[10]

Although the criticism of President Trump’s decision to withdraw has been immediate, it fortunately won’t conclude until November 2020, which all but guarantees this to be a major topic of debate in the next presidential election.[11] Also, despite the responses, Trump’s decision may not affect our economy, which is in the process of separating itself from carbon-heavy energy sources in favor of natural gas and cost-effective renewable energy.[12] Further, states like California and cities like Chicago have vowed to do their part by instituting their own environmental restrictions with similar goals to the Paris Accord.[13] Climate change is a worldwide issue and one man’s decision will not change the goal of millions.

For more information on Climate Change, check out Rachel Salcido’s article in the 2nd issue of our 49th volume at http://repository.jmls.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2583&context=lawreview.

[1] Benjy Sarlin, What It Means That Trump Is Leaving the Paris Climate Agreement, NBC News (June 1, 2017), http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/white-house/here-s-what-happens-if-trump-leaves-paris-climate-agreement-n766761.

[2] Rebecca Harrington, Here’s what the US actually agreed to in the Paris climate deal, Business Insider (June 1, 2017), http://www.businessinsider.com/what-did-us-agree-to-paris-climate-deal-2017-5.

[3] Harrington, supra note 2

[4] Kevin Liptak and Jim Acosta, Trump on Paris accord: ‘We’re getting out’, CNN Politics (June 2, 2017), http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/01/politics/trump-paris-climate-decision/index.html.

[5] See Donald Trump (@realDonaldTrump), Twitter (Jan. 29, 2014,1:27 AM), http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/jun/03/hillary-clinton/yes-donald-trump-did-call-climate-change-chinese-h/ (stating “[g]lobal warming is an expensive hoax”); see Donald Trump (@realDonaldTrump), Twitter (Nov. 6, 2012, 2:15 PM), http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/jun/03/hillary-clinton/yes-donald-trump-did-call-climate-change-chinese-h/ (stating “[t]he concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive”).

[6] Liptak and Acosta, supra note 4.

[7] Sarlin, supra note 1.

[8] Id.

[9] Thomas Skelton, At What Costs? Environmental Regulations and Cost-Benefit Analysis in Michigan v. EPA, 49 J. Marshall L. Rev. 1257, 1283 (2016).

[10] Liptak and Acosta, supra note 4.

[11] Id.

[12] Sarlin, supra note 1.

[13] Id.

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