The Paris Climate Agreement in the United States: Our History

By on June 2, 2017
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On June 1, 2017, President Trump announced that the United States would be withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord. In his speech, Trump cited three major reasons why staying in the Paris Climate Agreement would not be in the  United States’ best interest. According to trump, the Agreement is a massive legal liability, places unfair constraints on the United States, and will cost the US $3 trillion in economic growth. But, what does the Paris Climate Agreement actually say, and are his claims true? In this three-part series, we will explore the United States’ relationship with the Paris Climate Agreement — its past, present, and future.

What is the Paris Climate Agreement?

Signed by 196 countries on December 12, 2015, the Paris Climate Agreement sought to help reduce the effects of climate change. These signatories committed to reducing their carbon emissions and switching to greener sources of energy. In doing so, they hoped to limit the increase in Earth’s surface temperature to within 1.5-2 degrees Celsius. Additionally, they recognized that climate change was an international problem which had wide-ranging, global impacts on people. While the eratic weather patterns brought on by climate change would severely impact national economies and livelihoods, the impoverished would be the most at risk.

What committments did the United States make under this agreement?

Under the Paris Climate Accord, the United States committed to reducing its carbon emissions by 26-28% by the year 2025. However, the U.S. pledged to aim for the aggressive goal of reducing its emissions by 28%, staying  on the higher end of that range.

What steps did we take to honor our commitments?

In order to meet its commitment, the United States has sought for ways to rely less on energy sources generating greenhouse gasses and more on renewable, green energy. For instance, in 2016, states such as Oregon, New York, and Michigan all strengthened their commitment to clean energy by building more wind turbines and using other forms of renewable energy. Consequently, wind turbine technicians will be in very high demand, growing at an astonishing rate of 108% over the next decade.

While the United States has done a great deal to combat climate change, we are far from the “world’s leader in environmental protection”. In part two of our series, we will fact-check President Trump’s speech and separate the truth from alternative fact.