US begins withdrawal from Paris climate accord

World Today

The U.S. has begun the year-long process of formally withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement.

The deal calls for countries to voluntarily reduce carbon emissions.

CGTN’s Jim Spellman reports.

Early in his presidency Donald Trump announced the U.S. would pull out—calling the agreement a bad deal for the U.S. and claiming it would put the American economy at an unfair disadvantage.

“The Paris Accord would’ve been shutting down American producers with excessive regulatory restrictions like you would not believe, while allowing foreign producers to pollute with impunity. They were allowed to do what they were doing,” said U.S. President Donald Trump in October.

The Paris agreement was negotiated in 2015 and took effect the following year. Chinese President Xi Jinping and then U.S. President Barack Obama led efforts to bring nearly every country in the world into the agreement. Countries can’t pull out in the first three years of the agreement. That period expires Monday and the Trump administration plans to formally begin the withdrawal process.

The U.S. pull-out comes as a new wave of environmental activism is taking root. Sixteen-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg spoke at a rally in California over the weekend.

“Right now, we are living in the beginning of a climate and ecological breakdown and we cannot continue to look away from this crisis anymore,” said Great Thunberg, Environmental Activist.

Thunberg and other activists want the U.S. to drastically cut carbon emissions, but President Trump has pushed back on environmental regulations—targeting everything from high-efficiency light bulbs to auto emissions.

The Green Climate Fund is a U.N. program that helps developing countries cope with climate change. During the Obama administration the U.S. was the biggest contributor. This year, the U.S. contributed nothing.

“If the United States were to decide to reengage at any moment, they will be more than welcome. The United States have provided one billion dollars to the Green Climate Fund during the last period and so the fact the United States didn’t contribute to this pledging conference doesn’t mean that they will not in the future,” said Yannick Glemarec, Executive Director at the Green Climate Fund.

To formally withdraw from the agreement, the U.S. must send a letter to the U.N., which it plans to do Monday. There is then a one-year waiting period, which means the U.S. would not be out of the deal until the day after next year’s presidential election. If someone beside Donald Trump is elected president, the U.S. can re-join the deal in 30 days.