Growing Nervousness Over a Potential Paris Withdrawal
Former US Secretary of State John Kerry signs the Paris Agreement with his granddaughter on April 22, 2016
The world continues to nervously await a US decision on the Paris Climate Agreement. The United States had set a target of a 26-28 percent reduction in emissions below its 2005 level by 2025 and to make best efforts to reduce its emissions by 28% (See NDC Registry). Achieving these goals now looks bleak as several top advisers and aides and the President’s own campaign rhetoric suggest a US exit or at least a reduction in its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC).
The Paris Agreement states “a party may at any time adjust its existing nationally determined contribution with a view to enhancing its level of ambition.” While changes are not prohibited, the Agreement text points to changes in the higher direction. “Withdrawing would be harmful mostly to the reputation of the US, it would severely downgrade its leadership status in the world,” Maria Ivanova told The Guardian on May 9, 2017. “There’s no space for a vacuum so if the US leaves the world of clean energy and energy efficiency then that vacuum will be filled by somebody, probably China.” It is quite a turn of events from November 2014 when the United States and China took leadership and announced a bilateral climate agreement a year in advance of Paris. The President has promised a decision on US involvement after the G7 summit in Italy May 26-27, not prior as originally planned.