What's happened since Trump quit the Paris climate agreement?

May 21, 2019

Image of a newspaper torn in half

What is the Paris Agreement?

In December 2015, the countries of the world came together and agreed an epic deal to tackle climate change. They set super ambitious targets to keep warming under safe levels. They also agreed they’d deal with the impacts of climate change we’re already feeling. 

What did Trump do?

Two years ago, US president Donald Trump announced he’d be pulling the US out of the Paris agreement. He said he thought it’d hurt American workers and businesses. Fair to say he’s not that into caring for the environment. 

So he left an agreement - so what?

The US is the second largest carbon polluter in the world (after China). So what the US contributes to cutting (or not cutting) emissions makes a big difference. Plus America has lots of influence around the world, so by leaving they could encourage other countries to take their foot off the gas cutting their own emissions. 

How did everyone react at the time?

Other politicians in the US, and leaders around the world, were not impressed at his announcement. The two countries that had not joined the agreement before (Syria and Nicaragua) signed up, leaving the US completely alone. Lots of other countries said they were still keen to tackle global warming.  

What’s happened since?

In the US…

A whole bunch of US governors, mayors and business leaders said right off the bat they still supported climate action. 405 towns and cities, representing 70 million people, signed up to the Climate Mayors initiative to lead on tackling climate change locally. 80 cities committed to 100% renewable energy. New York is switching their buses to electric. LA is quitting coal. 3500 states, organisations and businesses, including Google and Amazon, joined the We are Still In coalition to cut emissions.

Around the world

In the absence of US leadership, other countries are stepping up. China, Canada and the EU teamed up and announced their own climate vision. 20 countries - including the UK and Canada - agreed to quit coal. The likes of Germany, India, Norway and China are soon saying goodbye to petrol cars. 

What next?

But, trouble could be brewing. The new Brazilian president Bolsonaro vowed during his campaign to leave the Paris agreement too. Last year, emissions in China soared to their highest point in seven years - so their commitment might be a little shaky. 

Meanwhile on a national level Trump’s doing what he can to promote coal, let businesses get away with more polluting and cut environmental standards for cars. 

In other words, it very much ain’t over yet . 

What can I do?

Global agreements like the one in Paris are one way we can tackle climate change. But to tackle climate change, we need everyone, acting on every level – from huge countries to individuals. 

There are businesses, politicians and individuals in America and around the world already taking action. We just need more of them - including us.

If you’re not a fan of Trump leaving the climate agreement, stick it to him by taking action yourself. To get your started, here are seven ways you can live more environmentally.

This blog post was written by our climate activist pals over at 10:10 Climate Action.