Parties of the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) passed the Paris Agreement in December, 2015. As one of the most important outcomes of international multilateral progress, the Paris Agreement showed the willingness of member countries to cooperate and clearly signaled the need for the low-carbon transformation of the international society. The main idea behind the Paris Agreement was the speed swings of climate and its effects on the planet. The Paris accord encourages on the development of low-carbon technologies and the transformation trend of the global climate governance regime.
The global community has prepared for the withdrawal of the U.S. from the Paris Agreement since Donald Trump was elected as the president of the U.S. The formal withdrawal of US from the Paris Agreement was not a shocker at all as the leaving President Donald J Trump spoke bluntly against the agreement. Trump used the withdrawal to build his political reputation and to renegotiate the Paris Agreement despite its negative effects on the political credibility, international relationships, and potential long-term economic growth of the U.S.
The withdrawal of the U.S. from the Paris Agreement was expected. During the early stages of the U.S. election, Trump had claimed several times that climate change is a hoax. As a publicity stunt, he promised to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement. Once he took the office of the president, Trump proposed the America First Energy Plan, in which he intends to re-stimulate the U.S. fossil energy industry. Furthermore, he completely dismantled the climate policies made by former U.S. President Obama. Trump canceled the Clean Power Plan and issued the Executive Order on Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth.
The leaving U.S. President, Donald Trump, claimed that global warming is an international stunt concocted by China to weaken the competitive industrial power of the U.S. He then announced on June 1, 2017 that he had decided to pull the U.S. out of the non-binding Paris Agreement. He claimed that the Paris Agreement restricts the U.S. while empowering other countries, Trump said the U.S. would begin negotiations to re-enter the agreement and make it “fair” to the U.S.
The withdrawal of the U.S. from the Paris Agreement aroused great response both in and outside the country. Former U.S. President Obama pointed out that Trump’s decision has made the U.S. join the minor group of countries that have rejected the future. On the other hand, US came up with an alliance to combat the climate change. In the U.S., dozens of states joined a newly established American Climate Alliance. More than 200 city mayors committed to adopt, respect, and obey the goals of the Paris Agreement. Numerous U.S. companies claimed to support these decisions. Nevertheless, several Republican politicians supported the decision for withdrawal.
Trump did not deny the truth of climate change but instead provided three points to support his decision. First, he believed that Paris Agreement is harmful to the U.S. and could damage the domestic economy, thus causing job losses. Second, he thought that the goals of the Paris Agreement would negligibly mitigate climate change. Even under the full implementation of National Determined Contribution, the global temperature increase will merely decrease by 0.2 °C. Third, he claimed that large developing countries, like China and India, made an unfair agreement against the U.S. He claimed that he would renegotiate the terms of the Paris Agreement to be fairer to the U.S.
Outside of the U.S., the Secretary General of the United Nations and several international organizations showed great disappointment in the withdrawal of the U.S. from the Paris Agreement. Meanwhile, the presidents and head officials of the governments of China, Germany, France, and Italy claimed that they will continue to fulfill their obligations in the implementation of Paris Agreement.
Trump is not the first U.S. President to withdraw from a legally binding international climate agreement. Early in 2001, President Bush claimed that climate mitigation is not in the best interest of the U.S. and refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol. His decision led to Canada, Russia, and Japan to opt out of the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. According to Article 28 of the Paris Agreement, parties cannot apply for withdrawal for first three years. And, another year is required for actual withdrawal once the UN has formally received the withdrawal application.
The most important characteristic of Paris Agreement is that it confirms the direction of international cooperation in responding to climate change and the consensus on promoting green and low-carbon development. In the context of global climate governance, the Paris Agreement confirms the concept of “doing everyone’s best and achieve a win–win scenario”.
In a global context, the two main political groups of South and North, and the three poles of powers in the climate regime (EU, the Umbrella Group and G77 + China) will not change although the economy, trade, and emissions of developing countries, especially the emerging economies, have grown rapidly. However, many aspects of global climate governance lack consensus. These aspects include the differentiation between developing countries and developed countries; the contribution of each country to meet the targeted 2 °C through global stocktaking and transparency mechanism; the support from developed countries on the finance, technology, and capacity building to developing countries; and the balance between existing and new emergent gaps and needs among mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology, and capacity building.
With the newly elected President Joe Biden, he emphasized the importance of climate change. Joe Biden has been very keen on the climate change issue and has regarded it as an existential threat. He will be working on a $1.7 trillion federal investment in green technologies research to be spent over the next 10 years in America.
If the Paris Agreement is renegotiated, the common but differentiated principle of responsibility of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will be challenged again. Nevertheless, climate change governance remains a main theme of future sustainable development. Instead of national governments, local governments and non-governmental organizations will develop strategies for technical innovation and emphasize pragmatic cooperation, thus expanding their roles in climate change governance. The capacity building on climate change research and public awareness should be enhanced as a long-term objective of global climate change governance.
The author is doing M. Phil in Public Policy and Governance. He is working as a freelancer. Previously worked with HubPages and Washington Post.