Trump’s decision deals death blow to Paris Agreement

Centre for Science and Environment says the accord will have no meaning, now that the world’s second largest polluter has pulled out of it 

  • The US is the world’s largest historical and the second largest current polluter

  • Without  the substantial emission cuts that the US is responsible for, the objectives of the Paris Agreement to restrict global warming to 2 degree Centigrade cannot be met

  • Trump has already announced stopping of funding to UNFCCC and IPCC and has backtracked on the financial commitment of USD 2 billion to the Green Climate Fund (GCF)

  • These domestic measures makes it clear that emissions would increase in the US

  • US has conveniently shifted the burden of addressing climate change on to other countries

New Delhi, June 1, 2017: With the US president’s latest assault on the global fight against climate change, meeting the objectives of the Paris Agreement will become an uphill task. Trump has sounded the death knell for the Agreement: said Sunita Narain, director general of the New Delhi-based non-governmental organisation, Centre for Science and Environment, responding to the US withdrawal from the Paris Accord.

The objective of the Paris Agreement is to prevent an increase in the global average temperature, and keep it well below 2°C. The Agreement, considered a landmark move forward, was adopted on December 12, 2015 by 195 Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), replacing its predecessor Kyoto Protocol. The Agreement was finally ratified on November 4, 2016.

Said Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general, CSE: “The USA is not only the largest historical emitter of greenhouse gases, but also one the major current emitters. Without the active and ambitious contribution from the US, any action to combat climate change under the Paris Agreement will be insufficient by a huge margin.

He added: “Even if other countries, including the developing countries, raise their ambition, they would not be able to fill in the void left by the US. It is, therefore, not sufficient to shift the burden of addressing climate change to other countries -- including China and India.

The role US has played in global climate change

  • Largest contributor to climate change: USA is the largest historical contributor to climate change, responsible for 21 per cent of the current carbon stock in the atmosphere. It is currently the second largest polluter in the world, and has the highest per capita emissions.

  • Weak climate agreements: To accommodate US interests, countries have worked towards making climate agreements weak. The Kyoto Protocol had weak targets. Likewise, to bring back the US under the UN climate framework, the Paris Agreement was made a voluntary, bottom-up decentralised regime with no emission reduction commitments for countries and no punitive measures if countries failed to meet their targets.

  • US climate commitments: Under its climate action plan, the US had pledged merely 26-28 per cent emission reduction below 2005 levels by 2025. On the 1990 baseline, the US will cut emissions by a mere 13-15 per cent by 2025 and 23-27 per cent by 2030. In comparison, the EU-28 will reduce 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2030. The pulling out of the Paris Agreement means that the US will not fulfill its already weak commitments.

  • Financial commitments in jeopardy: In its federal budget, the US has announced that there will be no further funding to IPCC and UNFCCC. It has also vowed not to fulfill its support commitment of USD 2 billion to the Green Climate Fund (GCF). This would mean that funding to the GCF, meant to help developing countries to address climate change, would suffer tremendously.

  • US domestic measures: By adopting a slew of measures domestically which includes revoking its Clean Power Plan (CPP), Trump has made his agenda clear – unfettered expansion of domestic fossil fuel production and repealing anything that is against it.

This is not the first time that US is opting out of an international climate agreement. It pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol saying that emerging economies do not have quantified emission targets; now it has pulled out of the Paris Agreement calling it unfair.

“Climate change is a global challenge. The US cannot continue to keep the world hostage. Pulling out of the Paris Agreement would mean that with 5 per cent of the world population, the US will continue to jeopardise the remaining 95 per cent. Countries need to hold the US accountable for decisions that have a global impact,” said Narain.

Trump’s decision has come at a time when there has been an alarming increase in both the frequency and magnitude of climate-related impacts across the globe, calling for more concerted efforts to address climate change. “The future of the climate change regime has been shackled with this announcement. We are already on the path to a dangerous temperature rise of even up to 3 degrees Centigrade. The only foreseeable future course would be for the remaining countries to come together to modify the Paris Agreement to make it effective,” said Bhushan. 

For more details, information on CSE’s work on climate change negotiations, or for interviews, please contact Souparno Banerjee, The CSE Media Resource Centre,, +91-9910864339 

A Centre for Science and Environment press release /

Meida Coverage
Financial Express |June 2, 2017