The Paris Agreement after Trump: Who’s Stepping In?
After months of ambiguity concerning the United States’ commitment to the Paris Agreement, President Trump fulfilled his campaign promise to abandon the international climate accord in June. This move was reaffirmed to major allies by chief economic advisor Gary Cohn in September after speculation arose around a potential U.S. re-entry if “suitable terms” were found. As the world’s second-largest carbon emitter, the United States’ departure from the Paris Agreement threatened the viability of the climate agreement. However, in the months leading up to and after the monumental decision, several domestic and international actors have taken up the mantle of global climate leadership.
Domestically, since Trump’s announcement, 14 states (California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington) and Puerto Rico have pledged to uphold the climate agreement and continue to pursue emission-cutting policies. Known as the United States Climate Alliance, the group expects to slash emissions of their respective states and territories by 24 to 29 percent by 2025, on par with the United States’ original commitment to reduce overall emissions by 26 to 28 percent. However, since the alliance only comprises 36 percent of the total U.S. population, the United States’ total emissions are expected to fall by only 15 to 19 percent by 2025.
Internationally, three major players have reaffirmed their commitment in recent weeks – India, the European Union, and China. The world’s third-largest carbon emitter, India pledged to “work above and beyond” the Paris Agreement, citing its international solar alliance with France as an example of its devotion to the climate accord. Similarly, the EU committed itself to abiding by its Paris obligations in the face of U.S. abandonment, having already established the world’s largest carbon market as well as a burgeoning renewable energy sector.