If America doesn't elect a President in 2020 who cares about the environment, the Trump administration's decision could be permanent.
When President Trump assumed office in 2016, one of the first policy decisions he made was pulling out of the Paris climate agreement. This was an agreement signed within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) by former President Barack Obama and representatives from 196 other state parties in order to deal with greenhouse-gas-emissions mitigation, adaptation, and finance. In the long-term, the Paris Agreement is a way for countries to keep global warming to a minimum. Climate scientists have predicted that keeping the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C is the only way to ensure planet Earth remains habitable. However, Trump, a longtime climate change denier and opponent of environmental protections has finally started the official process to withdraw the United States from the agreement, The New York Times reports. This can have everlasting repercussions for those who will have to deal with unlivable temperatures and a decaying environment long after Trump is gone.
The process was first initiated in August 2017 when the Trump administration delivered an official notice to the United Nations informing the organization about the United States' withdrawal from the agreement. As per the agreement, however, the formal notice of withdrawal cannot be submitted until it is in force for three years in the United States. As it was signed in 2016, it appears that now is finally the time for the US to pull out, much to the President's delight. Everyone else, on the other hand, is considerably worried about what this means for the future of our environment.
Despite these concerns, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has attempted to rationalize the Trump administration's decision by claiming the agreement places economic burdens that the country will not be able to manage effectively. "The United States approach incorporates the reality of the global energy mix and uses all energy sources and technologies cleanly and efficiently, including fossils fuels, nuclear energy, and renewable energy," he stated. Nonetheless, it must be questioned what America is prioritizing in the face of irreversible environmental damage.
Thankfully, the United States' participation in the Paris Agreement will ultimately only be decided depending on the outcome of the 2020 Presidential election (with that in mind, can we legally vote in Greta Thunberg for President in 2020?). But due to the unpredictability of America's upcoming elections, other countries that have signed the agreement believe it is best to plan ahead anticipating the United States' withdrawal. Laurence Tubiana, who was appointed as France’s climate change ambassador during the initial Paris negotiations, recently shared, "Yes, there are conversations. It would be crazy not to have them. We are preparing for Plan B." While it may be more difficult to achieve a 2°C increase without the involvement of one of the world's biggest polluters and superpowers, it appears that the United Nations will simply have to blaze forward without America. That is, at least until next year, when hopefully someone who cares about the environment assumes Presidential office.