Exiting the Paris Agreement Doesn’t Make America Great

Climate Jun 1, 2017
Michael Jenkins and Gustavo A. Silva-Chávez

Yesterday’s decision by the US administration to exit the Paris Climate Agreement will not make America or the world great. It is a decision that ignores basic science and turns its back to the global efforts to fight climate change. The Paris Agreement, by design, provides flexibility that the US could have used, if it had concerns about specific aspects of the agreement, such as lowering the costs by allowing the use of market mechanisms like cap-and-trade.

The US exit will allow China, the EU, India and others to lead the clean energy race while the US uses 19th century energy resources. Market forces are phasing out the use of coal, in the US and abroad, and the future of energy will be in the renewable front. Forests and sustainable agriculture, which we fought hard to be at the center of the Paris Agreement, will suffer as vital US government support is cut off. With this complete pull-out, the US joins Syria and Nicaragua as the only countries that are not party to the Paris Agreement.


President Trump’s decision puts the U.S. at a huge competitive disadvantage in the clean energy race
(Photo: Bill Whittaker / CC BY-SA 3.0)

The upside of the US exit is that, without the US at the table blocking progress or trying to re-negotiate the agreement, we hope that the rest of the world will be able to quickly implement the Paris Agreement framework.

We American citizens still have many ways to take action. There is tremendous vibrancy and progress at the level of our local communities, our cities, and our states to move climate change policy and actions forward. The voluntary carbon offset market is alive and well, and individuals and non-profits can participate. US businesses of all sizes and across all sectors are making great strides to reduce and eliminate heat-trapping carbon emissions.

Look for more detailed thought pieces on the various ways to take action here on our Viewpoints blog over the next few weeks.

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