President Donald Trump administration has announced on Monday (11/04) that the United States (US) is withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement - Photo: Privacy

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – President Donald Trump administration has announced on Monday (11/04) that the United States (US) is withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement, marking the first formal step in a one-year process to exit the global pact to fight climate change.

“Today we began the formal process of withdrawing from the Paris Agreement. The US is proud of our record as a world leader in reducing all emissions, fostering resilience, growing our economy, and ensuring energy for our citizens. Ours is a realistic and pragmatic model”, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.

The paperwork sent by the US government to withdraw begins a one-year process for exiting the deal agreed to at the United Nations (UN) climate change conference in Paris in 2015. The move making the US the only country in the world that will not participate in the pact, as global temperatures are set to rise 3C and worsening extreme weather will drive millions into poverty.

“What we won’t do is punish the American people while enriching foreign polluters,” Trump said at a shale gas industry conference in Pennsylvania on Oct. 23, referring to his planned withdrawal from the agreement.

The US had signed onto the 2015 pact during the President Barack Obama administration, promising a 26-28 percent cut in US greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 from 2005 levels.

Trump campaigned on a promise to rescind that pledge, saying it would unfairly hurt the US economy while leaving other big polluters like China to increase emissions. But he was bound by UN rules to wait until Nov. 4, 2019, to file the exit papers.

The State Department is expected to submit the letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, starting the clock on a process that would be completed just one day after the 2020 US presidential election, on November 4, 2020.

But Trump’s withdrawal from Paris could still leave a lasting mark, said Andrew Light to AP, a senior fellow at the World Resources Institute and former adviser to the US climate envoy under President Obama.

“While it serves the political needs of the Trump administration, we will lose a lot of traction with respect to US influence globally,” he said, adding it could take time for the international community to trust the US as a consistent partner.

Until its formal exit, the US will continue to participate in negotiations over the technical aspects of the agreement, represented by a small team of career State Department officials.

The US and China, the world’s two largest carbon emitters, have recently been leading negotiations of the Paris “rule book” that outlines transparency and reporting rules for signatories.

However, climate change is already affecting every sector and region of the US, as hundreds of top scientists from 13 federal agencies made clear in a report the White House itself released last year. The past five years were the warmest ever recorded. Without steep pollution reductions, climate change will risk tens of thousands of US lives every year by the end of the century.

Rising seas, increased storm surge, and tidal flooding threaten US$1 trillion in public infrastructure and private property now along US coastlines. The US has experienced at least $400 billion in weather and climate disaster costs since 2014.

Climate change also threatens global and national security. The military bases, and hence security preparedness, are threatened by sea-level rise and other impacts. The American Security Project, an organization of retired flag officers who spent their careers in uniform and other leaders, calls climate change a “ring road” issue, meaning that climate change will worsen other threats facing the nation.

The formal moves to withdraw from the agreement has come under criticism from environmental groups and civil society organizations.

“By withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, the Trump administration is showing that it cares neither about science nor economics,” said Andrew Steer, president, and CEO of the Washington DC-based think tank World Resources Institute to AP.

Countering Trump’s argument that agreement would hurt the US economy, Steer said that the administration’s views were driven by “outdated views from the last century” even though it is now clear that climate action “promotes greater economic efficiency, drives innovation, and provides long-term policy consistency. Combined, these lead to a much stronger economy.”

Written by Lexy Nantu, Email: lexy@theinsiderstories.com