USA Withdrawal from Paris Agreement – What Next?
- Publisher: National Research University Higher School of Economics
International Organisations Research Journal
Climate Change | UNFCC | Paris Agreement | US withdrawal | International relations | JZ2-6530
In June 2017, President Trump announced the USA’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord, which had
been ratified for less than a year, thanks in large part to the USA. That drastic shift followed the change in
residency at the White House. Withdrawing from the Paris Accord presents an interesting topic for analysis.
There’s the practical side of the withdrawal procedure as set out in Article 28 of the agreement, not to mention the
consequences of US non-participation in addressing international climate issues. There are other international
forums (Such as G8 and G20), which also have an interest in climate related topics.
The Article analyses the U.S. position in negotiations and its commitments assumed the moment the
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) came into effect until now: the
reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, financial aid and reporting. It also provides general analysis of national
legal obligations under the Paris Accord, ratification of that agreement in general and in particularly another
that took place in the USA, it focuses on the specifics of withdrawal. The specified three-year period from the
Agreement becoming active, after which any party may withdraw from it (2019), is a noteworthy detail.
It is well-known that the Paris Agreement provides a framework that does not impose individual national
commitments or a commitment to a compliance system. In essence, and from a legal point of view, it is nonbinding.
This was what allowed the USA to accept the terms of the accord relatively quickly and to use the
simplified procedure, which by-passed Congress. In the opinion of the authors, President Trump’s resolution to
withdraw should, possibly, be considered as a simple continuation of his election discourse and the fulfilment
of a campaign promise. Additionally, President Trump’s declared intent to review the Paris Accord has legal
grounds on which to launch further international negotiations, consequently that will never come to pass.
The Article was been written based on the analysis of resolutions passed at conferences attended by
parties to the UNFCCC, other UN documents and international forums, the laws and regulations of the
Russian Federation, information published by international legal experts and mass media coverage of the topic.
The Article sums up the consequences of US withdrawal from the Paris Accord, noting that the Agreement’s
status will not change after the USA withdraws. The Accord will remain in force having become effective in 2016
and the US will remain a party to the fundamental UN Climate Convention. The reduction in contributions
to the Green Climate Fund will undoubtedly limit the project’s potential in developing economies. A ‘domino
effect’ is not inconceivable – with similar resolutions following the U.S. example, Turkey for example has
announced the likelihood that it too will suspend ratification. There is though still time before 2019 for the U.S.
to change its position