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Special Report: What Withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement Would Mean

Updated: Jun 1, 2020

The White House formally announced Tuesday that on the day after the 2020 presidential elections, the U.S. will withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. President Trump has long maintained the idea that the Paris Climate Agreement would stunt America's economic growth.

Coal plant releasing greenhouse gas emissions. Image source: David Suzuki Foundation

Companies across America support the Paris Climate Agreement because it is a solid agreement that is mutually beneficial, according to Todd Stern, the chief climate negotiator under President Obama. Many parts of the government would also benefit from the agreement. The military considers climate change a national security risk because of the threat to military bases. The national intelligence community would also benefit from the agreement, Mr. Stern said, along with other part of the government and private sector. Even more, individuals clearly stand to gain from the mitigation of climate change.

The U.S., as a world power, acts as a model for other countries and governments. China is investing in clean technology, but it will be significantly harder to make sure they are meaningfully reducing emissions without the United States' pressure.

Chinese President Xi Jinping knows that he is dealing with President Trump and not President Obama. Under President Obama, President Jinping knew that climate change was going to be a top priority and a topic discussed in most meetings. This idea puts pressure on the Chinese state to mitigate climate change with clean solutions and provide a clear emissions decrease. This is a salutary, or beneficial, pressure on the Chinese state.

Under President Trump, President Jinping has no such pressure. Without this pressure, you can see diminished focus on climate solutions on the top levels of government. This same idea is applied to Prime Minister Modi of India.

Watch the full PBS NewsHour Interview with Todd Stern here:


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