Trump Begins Paris Climate Accord Withdrawal
(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump formally began the process of withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris climate accord on Monday, a move announced in 2017 that will take another year to complete.
The State Department formally submitted a request to withdraw from the pact signed by roughly 200 countries on Monday, the earliest date Trump can make the official notification.
“President Trump made the decision to withdraw from the Paris agreement because of the unfair economic burden imposed on American workers, businesses, and taxpayers by U.S. pledges made under the agreement,” Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said in an email.
It will take a year for the move to take effect -- setting the stage for the U.S. departure on Nov. 4 next year, coincidentally a day after the 2020 presidential election.
But, critics say, he’s already retreated from the fight against global warming by systemically undoing emissions-cutting policies -- an issue Democrats aim to use against him on the campaign trail.
“With or without the paperwork the administration is doing to withdraw from Paris, they have effectively withdrawn from any kind of commitment already,” said Joe Goffman, executive director of the Environmental and Energy Law Program at Harvard Law School.
Trump, who has repeatedly questioned the science behind climate change, vowed to leave the Paris climate accord while campaigning for president. He formally declared his intentions during a Rose Garden speech in 2017.
Trump reiterated his plan last week, calling the pact “a total disaster for our country” that would hurt American competitiveness by enabling “a giant transfer of American wealth to foreign nations that are responsible for most of the word’s pollution.”
The president has celebrated other environmental priorities, regularly touting the U.S. as having the cleanest air and water. The 2015 climate accord is really a collection of individual, country-specific pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions, designed with an ambition to strengthen them over time. Under former President Barack Obama, the U.S. committed to reduce emissions by 26% to 28% below 2005 levels by 2025.
The one-year withdrawal timeline could draw more attention to climate change as a campaign issue.
The 2020 Democratic hopefuls have vied to outdo each other with plans to rapidly slash greenhouse gas emissions, drive renewable power and quash fossil fuel development. Their environmental ambitions took center stage in a seven-hour climate-focused town hall with 10 Democratic presidential candidates in September.
If Trump were to lose re-election, his successor could reverse his course right after the January inauguration. There is a 30-day waiting period for re-entry to take effect.
“It takes four years to leave. It takes 30 days to go back in,” said David Doniger, with the NRDC Action Fund. But, he said, “a three-month timeout where the U.S. is formally out is not going to be any different than the level of disrespect the president has given the previous three years” to climate change.
The U.S. carbon-cutting pledge hinged on an assortment of domestic environmental policies governing everything from automobiles and power plants to oil wells and light bulbs. Here’s a look at Trump’s efforts to roll back major climate regulations:
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