As expected, President Donald Trump on June 1 announced the United States will withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. 

Trump says that he will renegotiate the non-binding Paris agreement or enter into a new agreement.

“The Paris Agreement handicaps the U.S. economy,” Trump said in his announcement in the Rose Garden. He said the Paris agreement places “draconian” financial burdens on the United States and is a “self-inflicted major economic wound,” that would make it difficult for the U.S. to compete with other countries.

The real-world impact on the withdrawal is uncertain as states and cities and other countries said they would step up their commitments in the wake of the U.S. withdrawal.

He said the U.S. will immediately end all implementation of the accord and stop providing funds to the U.N Green Climate Fund, which helps poorer countries adapt to a changing climate.

Trump said that withdrawing from the agreement is a “reassertion of America’s sovereignty.”

The real-world impact on the withdrawal is uncertain as states and cities and other countries said they would step up their commitments in the wake of the U.S. withdrawal. Renewable energy interests also said the switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy will continue. 

In the accord, signed during the Obama Administration in April 2016, the U.S. agreed to reduce its carbon emissions by 26-28% from 2005 levels by 2025. The U.S. signed the agreement with 200 other nations, which have separate targets, to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in an effort to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius.

 The country has already reduced its carbon footprint by about 12%, in large part because a greater use of natural gas instead of coal for electricity generation, according to the federal Energy Information Administration.

 “We supported the Paris agreement when it was signed and believe the U.S. should stay engaged. However, regardless of what the President decides on the accord, we expect America’s solar industry to continue to thrive and create jobs, boost the economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions along the way,” said Dan Whitten, vice president of communications for the Solar Energy Industries Association.  

The American Institute of Architects said in a statement June 1 that they opposed Trump’s decision because it will put the U.S. behind other countries.

“The AIA will not retreat from its long-established efforts to conserve energy and to deploy renewable resources in buildings. We will continue to lead in efforts to curb the use of fuels and technologies that needlessly pollute our atmosphere and harm our environment,” said AIA President Thomas Vonier.

Encouraged By 22 Republican Senators

Even as major oil companies Shell and ExxonMobil, as well as several Fortune 500 companies urged Trump to stay in the agreement, Trump’s move was encouraged by a group of 22 Republican senators who said he should withdraw. The group, led by Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) sent a letter May 25 saying that remaining in the accord subjects the U.S. to “significant litigation risk,” that could stall efforts to rescind the Clean Power Plan – one of the components the Obama Administration planned to use to meet the Paris goals. 

“Again, we applaud your efforts to reduce overregulation in America. To continue this path, we urge you to make a clean exit from the Paris Agreement,” the senators wrote. 

James Rubin, a lawyer at the firm Dorsey & Whitney who served for 15 years as an environmental defense trial attorney for the U.S. Dept. of Justice and represented the administration in climate matters, said that the senators and others are misreading what the Paris agreement requires.  

“It is based on a fundamental misunderstanding about the binding nature of the accord,” he says. No country or group can legally require a member to meet its obligations. “As a practical matter then, the U.S. continued participation in the accord would basically come at no actual cost.  The cost, however, for withdrawal would be considerable – great harm to US diplomacy, trade and the global environment.”