President Trump held a press conference on Thursday afternoon to formally announce what most people already suspected: He has chosen to withdraw from the landmark climate change treaty, the Paris Agreement. Trump came to this decision despite massive efforts from environmentalists, business insiders, and reportedly even people within his own administration to consider the consequences of making such a unilateral decision. Apparently, homework and making informed decisions are not Trump's strong suit. Now that he's decided to take the first steps towards withdrawal, perhaps it's important to talk about when we can reverse Trump's Paris Agreement decision.
The Paris Agreement is a treaty signed by 195 countries around the world who have pledged to make specific efforts to reduce carbon emissions and keep global temperatures from rising more than two degrees in this century. It is considered by many to be the most significant global effort towards combating climate change in history. President Trump, leader of the country with the second highest greenhouse emissions on the planet, has chosen to take great steps to withdraw from the treaty because it is apparently "bad for business in the United States." In his speech from the White House, Trump explained:
We're getting out. And we will start to renegotiate and we'll see if there's a better deal. If we can, great. If we can't, that's fine. The United States will cease all implementation of the non-binding Paris accord. As someone who cares deeply about our environment, I cannot in good conscience support a deal which punishes the United States. The Paris accord is very unfair at the highest level to the United States.
Trump's announcement is simply the first step in a long, arduous process to leave the Paris Agreement. As European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker pointed out during a conference in Germany:
The Americans can't just get out of the Agreement, it takes three to four years.
Juncker went on to note that the Paris Agreement was
... not only about the future of Europeans but, above all, the future of people elsewhere. Eighty-three countries run into danger of disappearing from the surface of the earth if we don’t resolutely start the fight against climate change.
So how do we go about reversing Trump's disastrous decision?
Trump can't leave the Paris Agreement until November 2020. According to a rule written into the deal, full withdrawal cannot begin until November 2019, and a full year's notice must be given. Even if Trump chooses not to go through Congress, that's four full years when his administration must remain part of the Agreement and follow through with the terms for lowering greenhouse emissions.
2020 will be election year. Hopefully, a time for a little sensible change. For those who don't support his decision to ostensibly turn a blind eye on climate change, that election will prove to be more important than ever. It will most certainly be included as a campaign issue.
And hopefully, 2020 will see the end of the covfefe era of political mayhem that was the Trump administration.