Paris Agreement

E&E News' Chemnick and Holden talk impact of U.S. exit, international reaction

This afternoon, President Trump announced the United States will exit the Paris climate agreement. In this E&E News special report, reporters Jean Chemnick and Emily Holden join Monica Trauzzi to explain what the move means for diplomatic relations and efforts to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.


Monica Trauzzi: Good afternoon. I'm Monica Trauzzi from the E&E newsroom in Washington, D.C. This afternoon President Trump announced in a Rose Garden conference that the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement.

Joining me for analysis and details on what we might see next on all of this are E&E News reporters Emily Holden and Jean Chemnick. Thank you both for joining me.

So Jean, this is being pitched by the administration as an economic decision. What we heard from the president is that the U.S. will withdraw, but he left this door open for renegotiating or entering a new treaty entirely. Is the international community open to something like that?

Jean Chemnick: No. I've heard from a couple of people that, no, Paris is non-negotiable. It took more than two decades to get to Paris from the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. A lot of dealmaking. A lot of false starts. The idea that they're going to be able to renegotiate it in the next few years as the U.S. is pulling out and as everyone is kind of upset with the U.S. for that, many countries are, seems pretty far-fetched.

Monica Trauzzi: So essentially we can just read this as the U.S. withdraws.

Jean Chemnick: Yeah. For whatever reason he decided to tack that on. Probably to throw something to his advisers and his daughter who pushed to stay in Paris, but in practical terms, the opportunities for renegotiating are not very great.

Monica Trauzzi: What comes next?

Jean Chemnick: Well, presumably he'll officially inform the UNFCCC, which is the U.N. negotiating body that deals with climate change, that the U.S. is leaving. That starts a three-year cooling-off period. Then the U.S. or another country can formally withdraw four years after they joined, which in this case is going to be 2020.

Monica Trauzzi: Emily, right behind us here in our newsroom there's some intense fact-checking going on of the president's speech. In ClimateWire tomorrow we can expect to read all about that?

Emily Holden: Absolutely. I think we have a list of at least six or seven items that we found questionable that the president listed, including some of the numbers that he suggested for the job impacts and the economic impacts of the Paris Agreement, which he got from a report from a group called NERA, which I believe was done for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and another conservative group.

Monica Trauzzi: Jean, how does this impact diplomatic relations on the whole?

Jean Chemnick: Well, especially with Europe, this is a big blow. Trump wasn't all that popular coming out of the G-7 last week. The Group of Seven big industrialized countries that met in Sicily. This was a wedge issue, climate change was, and so was trade. After that, especially Macron in France and Merkel in Germany were quite frustrated with him. This will just exacerbate that.

For a lot of countries this will be something that signals a lack of interest in working together on global issues. There'll be some countries that really don't care. So it depends on the country.

Monica Trauzzi: Emily, how does this impact what we see on the state level? States, in many cases, are continuing to act on emissions reduction. Does this play at all?

Emily Holden: Well, I think you're going to see a lot of states and cities and environmental advocates saying, "We're going to do everything we can to try to fill that gap." But what you're looking at right now, the U.S. under President Trump's policies, current and planned, is pretty far from meeting those goals and it would be difficult to do unless you're having a very optimistic outlook about the power sector and how quickly renewable power could grow and energy efficiency could grow.

Monica Trauzzi: All right. We'll end it there. Thank you both.

Jean Chemnick: Thank you.

Emily Holden: Thank you.

Monica Trauzzi: Quite interesting stuff. And thank you for joining us.

[End of Audio]



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