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Leaving the Paris Agreement

Updated: Mar 26

Dear Asian Youth,

On November 4th, people around the world anxiously awaited news revealing who the next president would be. Amidst the chaos, nerves, and arguments that ensued, many of us have overlooked a major turning point in the fight against climate change. As of November 4th, Trump is following up on his promises from 2017 and officially withdrawing the US from the Paris Climate Agreement.

The Paris Agreement was created in 2015 when hundreds of countries around the world came together in an effort to decelerate climate change. This was an overdue course of action, as climate experts from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have been repeatedly making it clear that the global temperature rise must stay below 2.0° C. As a result, the Paris Agreement is based on the global understanding that we need to incentivize countries to stop burning fossil fuels and make strides towards a green economy. Otherwise, most countries will maintain their fossil fuels industry in order to gain economic advantages. For example, developing nations have contributed the least to the fossil fuel industry, yet a lack of infrastructure and resources means that people within these nations are facing the most severe consequences (MIT Press). It would be hypocritical to discourage these countries from using fossil fuels to give their economy the boost they so desperately need. On the flip side, global superpowers such as the United States and China need to both come to a mutual agreement to cut down on carbon emissions because any country that keeps burning down fossil fuels will have an economic advantage over the other. If nobody is willing to make sacrifices, then everybody will lose.

The Paris Agreement understands and targets these issues accordingly. Firstly, the agreement heavily encourages developed countries to provide financial support to help developing nations achieve sustainability (NRDC). The current goal is to raise $100 billion by 2020, a number that is expected to rise within the next five years. The contributions that each country is expected to make is also dependent on their current wealth and ability to make these changes while maintaining equity. These are called nationally determined contributions, and they ensure that every country is placing forth an equal amount of commitment accordingly (