What is the Paris climate agreement? 9 things to know

Candice Alexander
June 1, 2017

CEO Elon Musk threatened Wednesday to stop advising President Donald Trump if the White House withdraws from the Paris climate accords.

The matter has deeply divided the administration. While officials like Secretary of State Rex Tillerson support the Paris deal, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt had pushed against it.

Brown has been harshly critical of Trump on climate policy, but he said last week that he believed the Republican president is a political "realist" and that progress on the issue may be "not as disastrous as we thought a few months ago". Still, the United States remains the world's second largest emitter of carbon dioxide. Those moves make it unlikely the USA will meet its Paris commitment.

Trump's administration has already begun the process of killing Obama-era climate regulations.

Still, he said that the carbon levels agreed to by the prior administration "would be highly crippling to the US economic growth", and said that, if the president had to choose between limiting carbon and economic growth, "growing our economy is going to win".

"The EU and China are joining forces to forge ahead on the implementation of the Paris Agreement and accelerate the global transition to clean energy", EU climate commissioner Miguel Arias Canete said about the upcoming EU-China summit, stressing they remain committed to Paris. But, he argues, this possibility may actually be heightened if the United States remains in the agreement as a laggard, weakening the compact from within.

Trump is getting conflicting advice from various quarters of the administration.

A downward revision would certainly prompt criticism from the global community, but not almost so much as an abandonment.

Trump has repeatedly called into question the science behind climate change, once calling it a "very expensive hoax".

If Mr Trump withdraws from the Paris Agreement he would put the United States in the company of Nicaragua and Syria. Asked what he'll do if Trump decides to leave, the chief executive said he "will have no choice but to depart councils". "Our city depends upon it, our future depends upon it, our future generations depend upon it, our planet depends upon it". The choice is between a formal withdrawal that could take three years or leave the United Nations treaty that the accord is based on, which would be quicker but more extreme, according to the Axios report. It was signed by Republican President George Bush.Paris goes one step further by obliging all nations to set domestic targets to curb emissions to limit a creeping rise in temperatures blamed for more heat waves, downpours and rising sea levels.Leaving the Convention would make the United States an "international pariah on global climate change", said Robert Stavins, director of Harvard University's environmental economics program.Johan Rockstrom, director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, said a US presence in the Paris negotiations until 2020 would be "the most negative thing. they would still be allowed to vote in the room".But he said a quick, clean break by the United States from the 1992 Convention might be best for other nations which could then work without risks of obstruction.

Any move to quit the Paris deal would mark a major departure from former president Barack Obama's policy on climate change. Should the United States pull out of the pact and seek to protect old-school jobs in coal and oil, it would risk losing the chance to lead the world in developing environmentally friendly technology — and generate the jobs that come with it.

It's true that a withdrawal from the accord isn't necessarily a permanent death sentence for US involvement. The agreement was signed by former Secretary of State John Kerry on Earth Day, April 22, 2016 on the US behalf. The agreement's flexibility also means that it does not impose any specific requirement to cut emissions by a particular amount. UC Merced is the only campus in the nation to have all of its buildings certified by the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program, and we are working toward our ambitious Triple Zero pledge to consume zero net energy and produce zero waste and zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.

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