Meeting the Paris Climate Goals Was Always Hard. Without the U.S., It Is Far Harder.


Meeting the Paris Climate Goals Was Always Hard. Without the U.S., It Is Far Harder. By BRAD PLUMER JUNE 2, 2017. Continue reading the main story Share This Page. Continue reading the main story. Share; Tweet; Email; More; Save. Photo. A gas flare …

What was the Paris climate agreement — and what else do you need to know about climate politics?


It’s official — on June 1, President Trump announced that “the United States will withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord,” but suggested that he would be open to new negotiations that are “fair” to the United States.

Here at the Monkey Cage, we’ve provided in-depth analysis over the years on the Paris accord, climate change, energy security and environmental developments. For a full listing of these posts, see below.

In our June 1 post, Joshua Busby at the University of Texas answers the big questions: What does this mean, and what’s next? He writes, “Under the normal rules of the agreement, the United States cannot withdraw until November 2020,” but “there is a nuclear option.”

Jessica F. Green, an New York University professor and frequent contributor on environmental policy topics, explains why the Trump decision would not roll back the considerable U.S. progress on environmental protection. She notes, “States, cities and many companies in the United States realize that sensible climate policy is, well, sensible.” With U.S. companies pursuing green options and U.S. utilities phasing out coal-powered plants, she points out that the U.S. government does not control — or make — many of these decisions.


Monkey Cage contributors have also looked closely at the Paris accord itself. Was there too much flexibility in the wording? What made the Paris accord different from other climate change negotiations? More broadly, what happens to global security if the effects of climate change force millions to migrate? And what are the nuts and bolts of energy politics, aviation emissions  and U.S. energy conservation programs? We invite you to keep reading.

MIT issues statement regarding research on Paris Agreement

A set of talking points circulated in support of President Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement included this statement:

“The [Paris] deal also accomplishes LITTLE for the climate

“According to researchers at MIT, if all member nations met their obligations, the impact on the climate would be negligible. The impacts have been estimated to be likely to reduce global temperature rise by less than 0.2 degrees Celsius in 2100.”

The researchers in MIT’s Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change who led the relevant analysis find this statement to be misleading, for two reasons.

First, the 0.2 degree-figure used in the talking point reflects the incremental impact of the Paris Agreement compared with the earlier Copenhagen agreement.  If you instead compare the impact of the Paris Agreement to no climate policy, then the temperature reduction is much larger, on the order of 1 degree Celsius — 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit — by 2100. This would be a significant reduction in the global temperature rise, though much more is needed if the world is to achieve its goal of limiting warming to 2 degrees Celsius or less.

Second, the analysis accounts only for countries’ pledges under the Paris Agreement, assuming no further strengthening of the commitments in years after 2030. The Paris Agreement is a milestone of the ongoing UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which is committed to ongoing annual meetings to regularly revisit and ratchet up nations’ climate goals, making them more ambitious over time.

The relevant MIT researchers believe that the Paris Agreement is an unprecedented and vital effort by nearly 200 countries to respond to the urgent threat of global climate change.

Trump climate agreement: Rest of world rallies around Paris deal


China, the EU and India, which along with the US make up the four biggest emitters of carbon dioxide, have restated their commitment to the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change.

Top EU official Donald Tusk said at a summit with China that Brussels and Beijing would step up co-operation.

Mr Trump announced the US was leaving for economic reasons, saying the deal would cost American jobs.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the US would still curb emissions.

Amid widespread international condemnation of the US decision, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he would “not judge” Mr Trump.

The Paris agreement commits the US and 194 other countries to keeping rising global temperatures “well below” 2C above pre-industrial levels and “endeavour to limit” them even more, to 1.5C.

The UN World Meteorological Organisation said on Friday that, in the worst scenario, the US pullout could add 0.3C to global temperatures by the end of the century.

What do the EU and China say?

European Council President Donald Tusk said after meeting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang that the two powers took their responsibilities seriously.

“Today, China and Europe have demonstrated solidarity with future generations and responsibility for the whole planet,” he told reporters at a joint news conference.