US becomes first nation to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement

US becomes first nation to formally withdraw from the Paris climate agreement after three year delay, but could be straight back in if Biden wins

  •  The United States has formally left the Paris Agreement today 
  • President Trump announced the country would be leaving the pact in June 2017 
  •  Due to complex rules built into the accord, decision only came into effect today

The United States has formally left the Paris Agreement, a global pact forged five years ago to avert the threat of catastrophic climate change, after a three year delay. 

The move on Wednesday, long threatened by U.S. President Donald Trump and triggered by his administration a year ago, further isolates the United States in the world but has no immediate impact on international efforts to curb global warming.

The country could however, enter straight back into the accord if Democratic nomination Joe Biden wins the presidential election.  

The United States has formally left the Paris Agreement, a global pact forged five years ago to avert the threat of catastrophic climate change

President Trump announced the country would be leaving the pact in June 2017, but UN regulations meant that the move only comes into effect today

Biden has previously said he favors signing the U.S. back up to the Paris accord and would seek to do so as soon as possible if he was elected. 

President Trump announced the country would be leaving the pact in June 2017, but UN regulations meant that the move only comes into effect today. 

The delay is due to rules built into the climate agreement that were put in place should a future US president decided to withdraw from the pact. 

Some 189 countries remain committed to the 2015 Paris accord, which aims to keep the increase in average temperatures worldwide ‘well below’ 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), ideally no more than 1.5C (2.7 F), compared to pre-industrial levels. 

Some 189 countries remain committed to the 2015 Paris accord, which aims to keep the increase in average temperatures worldwide ‘well below’ 2 degrees Celsius. Above, protesters hold up a sign during a demonstration in front of the White House

A further six countries have signed, but not ratified the pact.

Scientists say that any rise beyond 2 degrees Celsius could have a devastating impact on large parts of the world, raising sea levels, stoking tropical storms and worsening droughts and floods.

The Paris accord requires countries to set their own voluntary targets for reducing greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. The only binding requirement is that nations have to accurately report on their efforts.

The United States is the world’s second biggest emitter after China of heat-trapping gases such as carbon dioxide and its contribution to cutting emissions is seen as important, but it is not alone in the effort. 

People walk by a projection of flames and commentary on the side of the Trump International Hotel organized by activists

In recent weeks, China, Japan and South Korea have joined the European Union and several other countries in setting national deadlines to stop pumping more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

While the Trump administration has shunned federal measures to cut emissions, states, cities and businesses in the United States have pressed ahead with their own efforts. 

With the United States outside the pact, it will be harder for the rest of the world to reach the agreed goals.

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