Exit Accordingly

White House announces withdrawal from Paris Agreement 

The Paris Climate Agreement was signed in December 2015 by 195 nations in an effort to collectively reduce global carbon emissions. The international target—of limiting the change of the earth’s average temperature to 2 degrees Celcius—would require approximately 80% “economywide decarbonization” goals to be met by 2050 in the United States. President Trump announced Thursday that the U.S. will no longer attempt to meet that requirement: it will leave the Paris Accord altogether, and look to structure a new agreement.

The United States is currently responsible for 15 percent of all carbon dioxide emitted globally, second only to China. Experts warn that a U.S. withdrawal from the deal could raise the global temperature by up to an extra 0.3 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. 2 degrees Celcius is 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Much of these requirements weren’t supposed to take effect until 2020.

The United States joins Nicaragua and Syria as the only nations not committed to the agreement.

Perhaps most noteworthy: a formal exit from the Paris Accord is supposed take four years to complete, in accordance with the agreement’s terms. President Trump said in his announcement that a) he will not conform to these terms, and the U.S. will exit immediately; and b) the U.S. will look to structure a new agreement.

The U.S. had one alternative to exiting or staying: renegotiation. One method of restructuring the agreement would have been to extend the length of its emissions goals to give power plants more time to compensate for emissions regulations. The other would have involved pushing back the overall expectations of the plan. [The latter would have been much more difficult, according to most experts, because it would’ve meant recalibrating the emissions reduction goals of 195 nations with widely different statistics. For instance, the largest countries responsible for major emissions generation such as the U.S. and China have far more breadth of power generation plants—whether these are nuclear, natural gas, or coal—to regulate than say, Belgium, a country with an output only a fraction of the size.] Would have, could have…these phrases appear empty after Thursday’s announcement…the country now moves forward on its own plan. However, with the four year period for an official exit, it is possible that renegotiation of some sort will come into play during that time frame.

While this brings up concern from environmental groups and renewable energy companies, it is hard to determine what will constitute a U.S. emissions framework moving forward. An executive order was signed March 28 that targets the Clean Power Plan; effectively halted at this juncture. The lack of a definitive plan essentially leaves companies in all sectors left to their own devices.

Side note: a surprising example of departmental infighting had sprung from the subject: EPA head Scott Pruitt and Department of Energy head Rick Perry disagreed on the strategy leading up to Thursday’s announcement Pruitt calls for an all-out exit; Perry suggested the U.S. stay in the accord and renegotiate its terms. 

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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Withdrawal and Response | Electrical Apparatus Magazine - June 8, 2017

    […] almost immediately following the 3:00 PM announcement by the president that the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris Agreement, the alliance started with three state governors and steadily added names by the hour. Washington […]

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