Trump set to withdraw from Paris climate agreement

US president Donald Trump is expected to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement today, following widespread media reports that he is planning the step which would represent a major break from international partners, isolating the United States from global efforts to curb global warming.

Trump’s decision would put the US at odds with almost every other country on the planet and be a major reversal of the Obama administration’s efforts on climate change. The move could also spark off further efforts to erode the Paris agreement and ongoing global efforts to tackle climate change.

It is not yet clear exactly how US withdrawal from the agreement will be enacted and White House officials have been cautioning that the plans could change until Trump makes his decision public. Officials have been working on the language for the withdrawal and it is likely this will include specific legal conditions crafted by the Trump administration. 

The Paris climate agreement was established during a 2015 conference in the French capital. Every nation on earth signed it apart from war-torn Syria and Nicaragua, who said that the deal wasn’t tough enough. In signing the accord, countries pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but were given significant leeway in how much they planned to reduce them by.

Commenting on the likely move by the US, Matthew Farrow, director of the Environmental Industries Commission, said: “A US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement would be disappointing but not surprising given president Trump’s campaign pledges. Symbolically it would be a blow to the UN process of tackling climate change, though the actual impact is harder to anticipate.

“The accord will remain in force and countries such as China and India might see an opportunity to embarrass the US by taking a climate leadership role themselves, while action at state level in the US (e.g. in California) would mean that many US companies continued to face pressure to reduce emissions.  Alternatively, developing countries such as Brazil or Indonesia might feel less need to act on their pledges if the US withdrew.”

Ahead of the expected US announcement, Chinese and EU leaders are set to agree a joint statement on the Paris climate agreement saying it is “more important than ever”. The joint statement, to be published on Friday after a summit in Brussels, follows more than a year of discussions between Chinese and EU officials to agree a joint statement on climate change and clean energy.

According to a draft seen by the BBC, the document says that the dangers posed by rising temperatures are a national security issue which endanger social and political fragility. The communique also highlights that the transition to clean energy creates jobs and economic growth. 

“The EU and China consider the Paris Agreement as an historic achievement further accelerating the irreversible global low greenhouse gas emission and climate resilient development,” the draft document says. It continues “The Paris Agreement is proof that with shared political will and mutual trust, multilateralism can succeed in building fair and effective solutions to the most critical global problems of our time. The EU and China underline their highest political commitment to the effective implementation of the Paris Agreement in all its aspects.”

In recent statements over the last week, Trump has been clear that he plans to fulfil his campaign pledges to withdraw from the carbon reduction agreement, citing negative effects on jobs in the areas where he won a large percentage of the vote. However, Trump has been known to change his mind in the past on key issues and was known to be speaking to opponents of withdrawal even as his team prepared an announcement.

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