President Donald J. Trump has announced that the United States will withdraw from the Paris Agreement, the accord forged by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2015, with its 195 signatory countries pledging to cut carbon emissions in a effort to limit global warming to no more than 2ºC above pre-industrial levels. Trump says that he plans to halt payments into the Green Climate Fund, and re-negotiate the United States’ place in the agreement, claiming that the deal, as it stands, was specifically made to disadvantage the American economy.
But what does this mean for the future of global warming? The United States is seen as a key player on the climate change stage, in terms of being both the world’s second largest contributor to carbon emissions, and as a powerful force in developing and producing clean energy technologies. It is uncertain how many of the other countries that have signed the accord will react: will some give up on it, seeing one of the agreement’s heaviest hitters leave the field? Or will others push forward with the agreement, such as China and the European Union, both having vowed to continue the fight: "In sum, China will honor its commitments in the framework of the Paris climate protection agreement," pledged Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, in a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
There is also the question of whether or not other levels of government in the U.S., or American citizens for that matter, will follow suit in straying off of the carbon reduction path: as it is in the rest of the world, the U.S.’s renewable energy industry is experiencing rapid growth, resulting in job creation that has outpaced growth in other sectors by twelve times, and prompting a measurable decline in the U.S.’s carbon emissions over 2015 and 2016; many individual states, such as Illinois, Michigan and Ohio, are charting their own course in exploiting renewables; American industry leaders such as Bill Gates and Elon Musk see the potential for massive growth and positive change in the sector; and a coalition of mayors representing 75 U.S. cities have already pledged to move forward with their own green initiatives, regardless of Federal policy.
Trump’s announcement has drawn criticism from both the international community, and from voices within the United States, for both the impracticality of the move, and also what such an exit signifies. According to U.S. Senator and former Democratic presidential nominee Bernie Sanders: "At this moment, when climate change is already causing devastating harm around the world, we do not have the moral right to turn our backs on efforts to preserve this planet for future generations."
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