Runner Run-Down: The Paris Agreement

Braden Klassen, Contributor

In 2015, delegates from 195 countries convened in Paris to contemplate how to prevent global climate change from progressing to the point of no return. This point is generally understood to be when the global temperature increases by two degrees Celsius above what it was in the pre-industrial age.

At the end of the conference, the countries signed a treaty under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change that later became known as the Paris Agreement. Since then, 148 countries have ratified the treaty, meaning that they have formally and legally committed to the terms of the agreement. Each country has committed to it by individually setting targets for their contribution in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which are generally proportional to the amount of emissions that the country generates.

For example, Canada is currently ranked tenth in the world in terms of its contribution to global carbon emissions, and has pledged to reduce these emissions by 30 per cent (of emissions measured in 2005) on a national scale by the year 2030.

Under the directive of President Trump, the United States of America will withdraw its commitment to the treaty in June 2017. It can now be assumed that the approximate 14 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions which the country is responsible for will continue to rise.

America, Nicaragua, and Saudi Arabia are now the only countries that will not be participating in the treaty, and although America signed in 2016, the withdrawal process will not be finalized until 2020. This is because of Article 28 of the Paris Agreement, which stipulates that any countries that withdraws from the treaty must wait for three years after the treaty has already taken effect in the country. The withdrawal itself comes into effect one year after the UN depositary is notified, which means that the US will not officially be withdrawing from the agreement until 2019.

Incidentally, the earliest that this date of withdrawal could occur is Nov. 4, 2020, which will be the day after the 2020 U.S. election. This leaves room for the withdrawal decision to be overturned by the incoming administration.

If Trump is re-elected for a second term, however, it is more likely that America’s withdrawal from the agreement will come to fruition.


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