Paris Climate Agreement - If Trump pulls out, how bad will it be?

With Trump's recent announcement that he will decide "within the next few days" whether or not to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement, I thought it might be prudent to review just how catastrophic that would be, because there is nothing I enjoy more than learning more about my impending doom. 

So, let's get some background: in 1994, the United Nations established a convention called the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. This was a pretty big deal for the time considering there was far less scientific evidence to support climate change itself. The primary goal of the UNFCC was to "prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system," primarily by reducing and stabilizing greenhouse gas emissions. The UNFCC set the tone for our current climate change agreements, including the idea that developed nations would pave the way for others and that significant financial resources would be pooled to globally combat this issue. 

That leads us to the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, an international agreement which commits the parties of the UNFCC to reducing emissions by setting specific metrics against which they are measured. The Kyoto Protocol again emphasized the role developed countries must make by establishing that they would be held to higher emission reduction standards. Under the protocol, nations have to submit annual emission inventories and are given tools to help adjust to climate changes within their unique environments. 

Last year, the Paris Climate Agreement took effect, seeking to expand the efforts of the UNFCC to reach the greater global community. Of 197 parties to the Convention, 147 have so far ratified the Paris Agreement. Thanks to sweet Barry Obama, the U.S. was one of the first to do so and one of the Agreement's biggest advocates. The Agreement brought in new nations to recommit to the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions with the specific goal of keeping the global temperature increase under 2 degrees celsius by the end of the century. The Agreement requires all nations to contribute through "nationally determined contributions," which basically means each nation is expected to do their best based off of what they have available to them. The Convention is set to meet in 2018 to take stock of how the Agreement is meeting it's goals and to address NDC issues, however, if Trump has his way, the U.S. will not be at that meeting. 

How bad will this be? Well, the U.S. is the world's second largest emitter of greenhouse gasses, after China, so not good. States can individually continue to pursue ways to cut down on emissions, but the government pulling out of the Agreement signals that this shouldn't be our priority and is a pretty big middle-finger to the global community. And the planet. 

Trump could also theoretically pull the U.S. out of the UNFCC, which would mean that the US would be the only country aside from Syria and Nicaragua not included. The general consensus as of now is that Trump would not pull out of the UNFCC, although pulling out of the Paris Agreement in essence accomplishes the same thing but with slightly less humiliation. 

Consensus: Get Leo DiCaprio on the phone because the planet does in fact need saving. Gone are the Obama days when he vowed to reduce Carbon emissions by 20% before 2020 - the climate is in crisis. 

For more information directly from the UNFCC, click here. 

Greer Clem