By withdrawing from the Paris Accord and continuing to roll back environmental regulations introduced under the Obama administration, US President Donald Trump found the easiest campaign promise to fulfill as he tried to please the supporters who voted him into office.
Trump officially announced his decision to exit the Paris Accord on Thursday, claiming the multinational agreement on climate would undermine the US economy, hamstring US workers, weaken US sovereignty, impose unacceptable legal risks, and put the United States at a permanent disadvantage to other countries of the world.
“It is time to put Youngstown, Ohio, Detroit, Michigan, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania — along with many, many other locations within our great country — before Paris, France,” Trump told reporters in a ceremony at the White House Rose Garden.
Trump’s latest move on climate change came after he signed an Executive Order on March 28 that directed agencies to rescind any pending rules and regulations related to the Climate Action Plan and instructed the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to review and potentially withdraw Obama’s signature rule, the Clean Power Plan.
After struggling to keep a number of promises he made during his 2016 US presidential election campaign, such as immigration and healthcare reforms, Trump looked to be keen on making good on his campaign promises to undo his predecessor’s climate change agenda.
Compared to immigration and healthcare reforms, which usually require a long legal process and approval from the US congress, Trump could easily reverse environmental regulations and commitments introduced by the Obama administration, analysts said.
“Trump is very skeptical about climate change. He is trying to undo everything Obama did. He could do it through executive orders, without any congressional actions,” James Van Nostrand, a law professor at West Virginia University and the Director of the school’s Center for Energy and Sustainable Development, said.
When former President Barack Obama formally entered into the Paris Accord in 2016, he did so as an “executive agreement” in which he did not need Senate approval. This is why, Trump can now leave the Paris Accord without consulting the Senate.
The Paris Accord entered into force on November 4, 2016 and countries cannot withdraw until three years have elapsed from when the Accord went into effect. This means the United States would have to stay part of the agreement until November 2019. After that, the rules mandate a one-year notice period, which would mean a withdrawal in late 2020 — after the next US presidential election on November 3, 2020.