President Trump announced plans to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement on Thursday.
Some people may freak out, some people may agree, and then there are those who are probably wondering, "What the heck is the Paris Climate Agreement? Also, why should I care?"
Well, we're here to help you answer that.
But first, tell us: do you agree with the decision? Vote here.
What is the Paris Climate Agreement?
According to NBC News, the Paris Climate Agreement is a deal that was reached between 195 countries to work together and gradually reduce emissions that speed up climate change. This was made in hopes of preventing any more major increases in global temperatures which could cause sea levels to rise, spark major droughts and lead to more dangerous storms.
The agreement was made in 2015 and it actually took effect in November of 2016. This all came about because of the growing concerns over rising global temperatures that were caused by humans.
The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change pooled together scientific research from around the world and concluded that human-made emissions were very likely the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid 20th century.
What does the U.S. have to do with it?
The agreement calls for all who have joined this agreement to make a voluntary national pledge to reduce emissions and provide periodic updates on their country’s progress.
President Barack Obama committed America to a goal of lowering emissions by 26%-28% below 2005 levels by 2025. These are not fixed goals and could change over time.
Also, since the U.S. is a developed and pretty powerful country, we, along with other developed countries, have contributed more emissions historically. We have pledged to raise $100 billion a year through a mix of public and private sources and put it towards creating cleaner energy and reducing emissions.
Obama transferred $1 billion out of an initial $3 billion commitment to the United Nations Green Climate Fund before he left office.
Why does Trump want out?
Well, first of all, he doesn’t accept the dominant scientific consensus on climate change. He has repeatedly tweeted and said in campaign speeches that climate change is a ‘hoax’. He has also suggested that China is behind this plot.
The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 6, 2012
Although Trump did try to clarify that his accusation was a joke, he still doesn’t think that China will follow through on its promises to reduce their use of fossil fuels.
He is also not so confident in international agreements and institutions. And lastly, he doesn’t particularly like the regulations and spending that was set by the previous administration.
However, these reasons are not specific to just President Trump. Many conservatives opposed the Paris Climate Agreement and have been pushing to withdraw from it.
What could happen if the U.S. withdraws from the agreement?
Just because we decide to not be a part of this agreement does not mean it’s the end of the world. There have already been reports from both China and Europe to recommit to the agreement, whether or not we decide to recommit.
Also, President Trump cannot technically withdraw until November 2019. In addition to this, the U.S. is not 100% sure whether or not we will hit our intended goal to reduce emissions, but the economy is already moving away from carbon-heavy energy sources and are finding more favor in cleaner natural gas and creating affordable renewable energy.
Just because the president decides to leave this agreement does not mean he will alter this trend.
So, at this point, everything is a ‘what-if’ and if these ‘what-if’s' actually happen, it doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. A lot of this depends on expectations. If participating nations and industry leaders believe that the U.S.’s exit is only temporary and future administrations will return to the agreement, it can make them more reluctant to make any decisions based on Trump’s potential sole decision.