A day after the US presidential election, the country withdrew from the Paris Agreement as scheduled months earlier. TRT World takes a look at what happens next.

On November 4, 2020, the United States officially withdrew from the Paris agreement. World Wildlife Fund (WWF) President and CEO Carter Roberts had this to say: “Even so, across the country, a coalition of states, cities, businesses, universities, faith organizations, tribes, and other actors have come together to say ‘we are still in.’”

“They represent more than half of the US population and nearly two-thirds of the US economy,” Roberts says in a statement. “They are doing their part to cut emissions, but they can’t meet America’s commitment alone. Eventually, the federal government needs to lead the charge. That’s why we will continue to urge the president – whoever that turns out to be – to rejoin the Paris Agreement and enhance US ambition. In the meantime the We Are Still In coalition will continue to drive progress and set the stage for federal re-engagement.”

The We Are Still In declaration was first released on June 5, 2017, stating that, “more than 3,800 leaders from America’s city halls, state houses, boardrooms and college campuses, representing more than 155 million Americans and $9 trillion of the U.S. economy have signed the We Are Still In declaration. Hundreds more have signed similar declarations in support of climate action.”

The signatories of the We Are Still In declaration comprise “red [Republican] and blue [Democratic] regions across 50 states,” demonstrating “America’s enduring commitment to delivering on the promise of the Paris Agreement and America’s contribution to it.”

According to the website, “To date, ‘We Are Still In’ is the largest cross section of the American economy yet assembled in pursuit of climate action.”

The open letter addressed to the international community and parties to the Paris Agreement from signatories of the We Are Still In declaration (“US State, tribal, local, and business leaders”) declares that the signatories are coming together “to support climate action to meet the Paris Agreement.”

Presidential contender Joe Biden has announced that the US will rejoin the Paris Agreement if he is elected.

The Paris Agreement was signed in 2015 by 195 countries and the European Union “to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.”

According to the WWF, “the landmark agreement succeeded where past attempts failed because it allowed each country to set its own emission reduction targets and adopt its own strategies for reaching them. In addition, nations—inspired by the actions of local and regional governments, businesses and others—came to recognize that fighting climate change brings significant socio-economic benefits.”

As WWF notes, “stopping the climate crisis is critical to our collective wellbeing, but no single country can stop the damage alone.”

A TRT World article from 2019 states “The terms of the deal say no country can withdraw in the first three years. So Monday [November 4, 2019] is the first time the US could actually start the withdrawal process, which begins with a letter to the United Nations. And it doesn't become official for a year after that, which leads to the day after the election.”

According to the same article, “If someone other than Trump wins in 2020, the next president could get back in the deal in just 30 days and plan to cut carbon pollution, said Andrew Light, a former Obama State Department climate negotiator now at the nonprofit World Resources Institute.”

The US is the second biggest polluter in the world, after China. According to the WWF, the US was “instrumental in the design and negotiation of the Paris Agreement and signed on to it in 2015. As one of its signatories, the US submitted a pledge to cut emissions by 26%-28% relative to 1990 levels by 2025.”

“In 2017, however, the federal government announced its intent to withdraw from the agreement after a new administration took office and on Nov. 4, 2020, the United States became the only nation to withdraw.”

Thumbnail file photo: COP25 High Level Climate Champion Gonzalo Munoz holds the copy of The Paris Agreement as he poses with Britain's former Minister of State for Energy and Clean Growth and then newly appointed COP26 President, Claire Perry, Italian Environment Minister Sergio Costa and Spanish State Secretary of Environment Hugo Moran (not pictured) during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP25) in Madrid, Spain December 13, 2019. REUTERS/Susana Vera

Headline file photo: The then US Secretary of State John Kerry holds his two-year-old granddaughter Isabelle Dobbs-Higginson as he signs the Paris Agreement on climate change at United Nations Headquarters in Manhattan, New York, US, April 22, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Source: TRT World