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Melted ice caps, harsh weather patterns, and destroyed habitats. Climate change is already causing a major impact on our world. Climate change and the rise of greenhouse gases have been of increasing concern to scientists since the 1990’s. The Paris Climate Agreement, also known as The Paris Climate Accords, was developed in late 2015 to help combat this global issue. Specifically, the goal of this agreement is to prevent the Earth from warming by more than 2 degrees Celsius (this translates to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). This scale of temperature rise could have extremely damaging consequences to our environment. Until recently, 195 countries had agreed to sign, ultimately pledging to uphold the standards of the deal. This was up until President Donald J. Trump pulled The United States out from the deal in early June of 2017. This controversial move led to environmentalist uproar, and rightfully so. While Former President Barack Obama was a supporter of this agreement, President Trump believes that it has negatively affected the United States. With this declaration, the United States became one of the only countries to not sign the agreement. All in all, this decision has not only dramatically impacted both the U.S. and the world, but negatively impacted them as well.
In December 2015, almost every country in the world, including all of the world’s biggest polluters, came together in Paris and agreed to limit carbon emissions. These greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, are the main cause of global warming. Most greenhouse gases are naturally occurring, but humans have added to the problem by pumping a tremendous amount of these gases into the atmosphere through global industrialization. Most greenhouse gases come from burning fossil fuels like oil, coal, and natural gas. They also come from using fertilizers, raising livestock, and maintaining landfills. Carbon dioxide, methane, and hydrofluorocarbons are all greenhouse gases (Harrington, 2017). The Paris Agreement laid out a foundation for countries to adopt clean energy and phase out fossil fuels; However, the agreement does acknowledge that the current threat of climate change may be irreversible (Domonoske, 2017). “We have entered a new era of global cooperation on one of the most complex issues ever to confront humanity,” said Ban Ki-moon after signing the accord, the UN secretary-general at the time, “For the first time, every country in the world has pledged to curb emissions, strengthen resilience, and join in common cause to take common climate action. This is a resounding success for multilateralism.” (Harrington, 2017).
Each country was required to lay out a climate action plan describing how it would achieve these goals. Former President Barack Obama’s administration submitted it’s plan for the U.S in March of 2015, setting the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 26% to 28% by 2025 (Harrington, 2017). Moreover, These targets aren’t fixed forever and the long-term goal is to increase them over time (Sarlin, 2017). The baseline level this reduction is measured against is in 2005, when the US emitted 6,132 metric tons of carbon dioxide (Harrington, 2017). However, The agreement relies on developed countries, like the United States, whose economies have historically contributed more greenhouse gas emissions. The overall plan depends on helping finance the transition to cleaner forms of energy for developing countries (Sarlin, 2017). Under Obama, the US started to reduce its emissions. His administration enacted carbon-cutting measures to put the country on track to meet the goals set in Paris (Harrington, 2017). Before leaving the office, President Obama transferred $1 billion out of an initial $3 billion commitment to the United Nations Green Climate Fund (Sarlin, 2017). This positioned the US to be a leader in fighting climate change. Obama signed an executive order confirming the adoption of the agreement without submitting it to Congress for approval. That is how Trump was able to cancel the U.S’s commitment to the accord (Harrington, 2017).
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