United States Over Planet?

June 6, 2017

An agreement: what is it exactly? Between friends, it may be as sweet and simple as a promise like, “I’ll be your best friend forever! Let’s pinky swear!”

But for a country, an agreement is anything but simple. Let’s talk specifically about the Paris Climate Agreement. First, a quick breakdown of what it is exactly.

In 2015, 195 nations agreed to the details of the Paris Climate Agreement, an agreement in which each participating country promised to do its part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions (that’s harmful gases that are released into the air, trapping heat in our atmosphere and causing things like polar ice caps to melt). The agreement brought the world together with one goal in mind: keep the planet from getting too hot. In other words, let’s all do our part to cool down planet Earth so that we can continue to live on it for generations to come!

By Presidencia de la República Mexicana [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Every nation signed the agreement except two: Syria and Nicaragua.

During President Trump’s campaign for president, he promised his supporters that he would get the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement. Last week, he did just that. But why get out of an agreement that helps the planet?

According to President Trump, he thinks that “This agreement is less about the climate and more about other countries gaining a financial advantage over the United States.” In other words, he thinks the agreement is a bad deal for the United States because it would hurt the country’s economy and jobs. To leave the door open for possible re-entry into the agreement, President Trump did say that he’d consider the agreement again if it could be renegotiated.

US President Donald Trump and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt make US Paris climate agreement statement in the Rose Garden of the White House June 01, 2017. (Official Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian via Whitehouse.gov)

Some applauded President Trump’s decision like House Speaker Paul Ryan who said, “The Paris Climate Agreement was simply a raw deal for America. … I commend President Trump for fulfilling his commitment to the American people and withdrawing from this bad deal.”

However, others did not agree with President Trump’s decision and quickly made their voices heard.

France, Germany and Italy released a joint statement to respond to President’s Trump willingness to renegotiate the terms of the agreement. They said, “We deem the momentum generated in Paris in December 2015 irreversible and we firmly believe that the Paris Agreement cannot be renegotiated, since it is a vital instrument for our planet, societies and economies.” In other words, there will be no talks of renegotiations with the United States.

The Chinese Premier Li Keqiang spoke alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel noting that “Fighting climate change is a global consensus, not invented by China” and said that they will continue to fight climate change alongside the European Union.

Today’s developments will have no impact on Apple’s efforts to protect the environment. — Tim Cook, CEO of Apple

American businesses also responded. Some, like Bob Iger, the CEO of Disney, and Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, are leaving the president’s Strategic and Policy Forum (a group of business leaders who gives the president advice) because they disagree with the president. Some are moving forward with their environmental commitments, despite what President Trump has decided for the country.

So what happens next? Even though President Trump has decided to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement, the official departure won’t happen until November 4, 2020. Yep, it’ll take about four years for the actual exit to happen, and coincidentally or not, the official exit date is one day after the next United States presidential election.