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What Trump's decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement means for the US

President Donald Trump announced this afternoon that the United States will officially withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement.


What is the Paris Climate Agreement?

The Paris Agreement was struck in 2015 between 195 countries pledging to curb greenhouse gas emissions and keep the global temperature from rising no more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels over the course of the next century. As of May 2017, 147 countries had ratified the agreement. It became official on Nov. 4, 2016.

Each nation outlined its own plan to curb climate change. The plans are nonbinding, so countries could continue to make changes to their plans as they see fit.

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President Donald Trump listens as Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc speaks during their meeting together in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, May 31, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)


The participating nations are expected to reconvene on a regular basis to discuss progress and encourage each other to curb climate change, ultimately through diplomacy.

President Obama did not seek Congressional approval for the agreement; however, he did pledge to cut the United State's emissions by up to 28 percent by the year 2025.

Only Syria and Nicaragua refused to sign the accord, claiming it wasn't harsh enough in the battle against climate change.

How would the US exit the agreement?

The manner in which the U.S. leaves the Paris agreement is still up in the air and it could be several years before the exit officially happens. There are three ways in which the U.S. could leave the agreement, according to Climate Central.

One scenario is that rather than executing a formal withdraw, Trump and his administration could simply stop efforts to limit greenhouse gas pollution.

If the U.S. does formally withdraw, the treaty requires a country wait three years after joining the agreement before they can file the necessary paperwork to leave the accord, meaning the U.S. wouldn't leave until near November 2020.

A third and more aggressive option would be if the U.S. pulls out of the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). According to Climate Central, the Paris Agreement states that any country that withdraws from the UNFCCC is also considered to have left the Paris accord. The waiting period in this scenario would be one year.

What does this mean for the future?

President Trump removing the U.S. from the Paris Agreement would mean America would be at odds with many of its allies, potentially putting an added strain on relations.

Removal from the Paris agreement is another step in the Trump administration's call to roll back the fight for climate change, claiming it's having an adverse effect on jobs.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reportedly supported staying in the agreement, claiming it could hurt diplomatic negotiating power down the road. However, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt, agreed that the U.S. should remove itself from the accord.

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Head of the Environmental Protection Agency and former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017, at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)


While this would mean the United States government would be doing less to combat greenhouse gas emissions, that doesn't mean the fight would stop altogether. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that the city will remain committed to the agreement if the federal government wouldn't. States like California have openly made moves to combat greenhouse gas emissions.


Other countries, including China, have said they will continue their commitment to the Paris agreement. As of 2014, the U.S. and China together make up 45 percent of the world's carbon dixoide emissions.