Donald Trump may exit Paris Agreement: Move could have dire consequences, upend global order

US president Donald Trump has told confidants that he will withdraw from the landmark Paris Agreement, according to news reports.

File image of Donald Trump. AP

File image of Donald Trump. AP

Axios reported that Trump has told many individuals in his administration, including EPA chief Scott Pruitt, that he plans to withdraw from the Paris climate change deal. This is a big deal.

Leaving the Paris Agreement would be the largest step Trump could take to reverse his predecessor Barack Obama's climate change policies, and tell the world that climate change is not a priority for the Trump administration, Axios reported.

Chicago Tribune reported that Trump left the G7 Summit without committing to the Paris deal. While the Trump administration said it would take its time and consider whether the United States would remain in the Paris accord, the other six nations agreed they would honour their commitment to the deal, Chicago Tribune reported.

Time reported that Trump, on Saturday, said he would give his decision on the agreement next week.  On the campaign trail, Trump vowed he'd cancel the agreement and argued that it hurts US interests, however, his closest advisers are divided.

Pruitt and Steve Bannon have reportedly advocated for leaving the agreement, while US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Trump's daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner are strong advocates for staying in the deal, the report added.

What is the Paris Agreement?

The Paris Agreement was 195 countries reaching a deal in 2015 — to save the earth from catastrophic climate change that threatened to bring about a mass extinction of species, including human beings — the agreement was described as historic because this was the first time a consensus was reached over the grave environment challenge facing all nations equally.

The agreement required the ratification of at least 55 states, representing 55 percent of global emissions. The United States and China, the two biggest polluters, ratified the Paris treaty in September 2015 and and urged other nations to follow suit.

The countries voluntarily agreed to hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and also make efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius. For this, the key was reducing the dependence on fossil fuels and cutting the greenhouse gas emissions.

A new world order

The US leaving the Paris Agreement would not put an end to the deal as we know it. However, as the second largest polluter on earth, the Paris deal would be in great jeopardy.

The Atlantic  reported that the US withdrawing from the deal could create a "stampede effect", and other countries would follow suit. However, according to The Atlantic, it is likely that Trump will renegotiate America's pledge to cut greenhouse emissions as much as 28 percent by 2025, which was the goal of the Obama administration.

However, it isn't all doom and gloom. According to a report in CNN, the leadership vacuum left by the US could lead to Europe and China stepping up the fight against climate change. European leaders have hinted that should Trump withdraw from the Paris Agreement, a carbon tax might be levied on US imports, CNN reported.

Dire consequences for the planet

"The noose tightens," Princeton University climate scientist Michael Oppenheimer, co-editor of the peer-reviewed journal Climatic Change, told The Independent. The US withdrawing from the Paris Agreement would only aggravate the climate change problem and make it much more difficult to prevent the crossing of a global temperature to a dangerous threshold.

Three billion tonnes of additional carbon dioxide could be released into the air every year, melting the ice sheets faster, further raising sea levels and leading to extreme weather, the report added.

Trump in denial: Not just a river in Egypt

While Trump has publicly stated that he has  an open mind on climate change, a look at his previous comments shows that he is a global warming sceptic. Five years ago, Trump called climate change a massive hoax perpetrated by China.

The Chinese later promised they did not in fact, make up global warming to hurt the United States.

While Trump's aides have repeatedly said he is "evolving" on the issue of climate change, no one knows for sure which way Trump will go. The world is watching with bated breath. While it can still breathe.

With inputs from agencies

 


Updated Date: May 30, 2017 14:21 PM

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