Trump Turns his Back on the World

By pulling out of the Paris Agreement on climate change, Trump has abdicated America’s position as a global leader.

By Alexander H. Maurice.

At the beginning of June of this year, Donald Trump announced that the United States would be withdrawing from the Paris Agreement on climate change. Though not unexpected, this announcement has been met with widespread condemnation from around the world and places both the United States and the rest of the world on a more precarious footing as extreme weather patterns and rising sea levels threaten millions of lives and global stability. If the United States follows through with this announcement, they will be one of only three countries not party to the Agreement—along with Nicaragua, which didn’t sign on the grounds the Agreement didn’t go far enough, and Syria, which is in no position to have an opinion. For the planet, the question now is whether it is still possible to meet the target of limiting rising temperatures to the agreed-upon 2°C increase without the U.S. government’s official commitment to the Paris Agreement. For the world, the question is what this means for the United States’ position in the global community.

America Falls Behind

The Paris Agreement on climate change was signed in April last year by 194 countries and the European Union. It was then ratified by many of those countries and went into effect on November 4. The Paris Agreement is the first comprehensive global agreement on climate change, and it took years of intense negotiations to find a formulation that all countries were able to agree to. While some criticized the Agreement for not including consequences for countries failing to meet their commitments, making it voluntary and thus more a statement of good intentions, it was hailed as a good first step demonstrating a unified global commitment to moving forward away from fossil fuels. The official aim of the Paris Agreement is to halt “the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would …

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