President Trump declared that the United States would leave the Paris climate agreement, following months of infighting among Trump’s staff that left the world in suspense. He said he hopes to negotiate a similar deal that is more favorable to the U.S.

This move is one of several Obama-era environmental milestones that Trump has dismantled. And all the while, a new study shows global temperatures might be rising faster than expected.

Leaving the agreement displaces the U.S. from a stance of global leadership and places it alongside just two non-participating countries: Syria, which is in the midst of a civil war, and Nicaragua, who refused to join because the Paris Agreement didn’t go far enough. Even countries such as Liberia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which are among the poorest in the world and were struggling with an Ebola epidemic at the time, have signed on.

Who’s in and who’s out of the

Paris agreement, by total

greenhouse gas emissions

Developed country

Developing country

NOT PART OF PARIS AGREEMENT

3 countries

Syria

77K kilotons of

CO2-equivalent

total greenhouse gas emissions

Nicaragua

16K

United States

6.3M

President Trump plans to back out of the Paris Agreement, which puts the U.S. into this group

PART OF PARIS AGREEMENT

194 parties

192 countries + E.U. +

Palestinian Authority

China

12.5M

India

Brazil

3M

3M

Russia

Japan

Canada

2.8M

1.5M

1M

Dem. Rep.

Congo

Germany

Indonesia

Australia

950K

800K

760K

780K

South

Korea

Mexico

Iran

Bolivia

U.K.

620K

590K

670K

650K

660K

as of 2007

Saudi

Arabia

South

Africa

Central

African Rep.

Burma

France

530K

520K

510K

500K

500K

Other 174 parties that are

part of agreement

13M

Note: The Vatican is not officially part of the Paris agreement, but Pope Francis has publicly supported it. Some of these parties are part of the agreement but have not formally ratified it. They are already complying and moving toward ratification. Emissions data is from the World Bank as of 2012, the latest available year, unless otherwise noted. Data is not available for some countries after 2000.

 

Who’s in and who’s out of the Paris agreement,

by total greenhouse gas emissions

Developed country

Developing country

PART OF PARIS AGREEMENT

NOT PART OF AGREEMENT

194 parties

3 countries

192 countries + E.U. + Palestinian Authority

Syria

Nicaragua

77K

16K

China

12.5M

kilotons of CO2-equivalent

total greenhouse

gas emissions

United States

6.3M

President Trump plans to back out of the Paris Agreement, which puts the U.S. into this group

India

Brazil

3M

3M

Canada

Russia

Japan

1M

2.8M

1.5M

Dem. Rep.

Congo

Indonesia

Germany

Australia

780K

800K

950K

760K

Iran

South

Korea

Bolivia

Mexico

650K

620K

660K

as of 2007

670K

Central

African Rep.

Saudi

Arabia

South

Africa

U.K.

Burma

510K

520K

500K

590K

530K

Thailand

Italy

Turkey

Sudan

France

440K

480K

450K

490K

500K

Other 170 parties that are

part of agreement

11M

Note: The Vatican is not officially part of the Paris agreement, but Pope Francis has publicly supported it. Some of these parties are part of the agreement but have not formally ratified it. They are already complying and moving toward ratification. Emissions data is from the World Bank as of 2012, the latest available year, unless otherwise noted. Data is not available for some countries after 2000.

 

Who’s in and who’s out of the Paris agreement, by total greenhouse gas emissions

Developed country

Developing country

PART OF PARIS AGREEMENT

NOT PART OF AGREEMENT

194 parties

3 countries

192 countries + E.U. + Palestinian Authority

Syria

United States

Nicaragua

China

77K

6.3M

16K

12.5M

kilotons of CO2-equivalent

total greenhouse

gas emissions

President Trump plans to back out of the Paris Agreement, which puts the U.S. into this group

India

Brazil

Russia

3M

3M

2.8M

Dem. Rep.

Congo

Indonesia

Canada

Germany

Japan

Australia

780K

800K

1M

950K

1.5M

760K

Central

African Rep.

Iran

South

Korea

U.K.

Bolivia

Mexico

Burma

520K

650K

590K

620K

660K

530K

as of 2007

670K

Saudi

Arabia

South

Africa

Thailand

Italy

Poland

Turkey

Sudan

France

510K

440K

500K

480K

410K

450K

490K

500K

Other 169 parties that are part of agreement

11M

Note: The Vatican is not officially part of the Paris agreement, but Pope Francis has publicly supported it. Some of these parties are part of the agreement but have not formally ratified it. They are already complying and moving toward ratification. Emissions data is from the World Bank as of 2012, the latest available year, unless otherwise noted. Data is not available for some countries after 2000.

 

194 parties of the Paris Agreement

Afghanistan

Albania

Algeria

Andorra*

Angola

Antigua and Barbuda

Argentina

Armenia

Australia

Austria

Azerbaijan

The Bahamas

Bahrain

Bangladesh

Barbados

Belarus

Belgium

Belize

Benin

Bhutan

Bolivia

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Botswana

Brazil

Brunei Darussalam

Bulgaria

Burkina Faso

Burundi

Cambodia

Cameroon

Canada

Cape Verde

Central African Republic

Chad

Chile

China

Colombia

Comoros

Congo

Cook Islands*

Costa Rica

Croatia

Cuba

Cyprus

Czech Republic

Democratic Republic of Congo

Denmark

Djibouti

Dominica

Dominican Republic

Ecuador

Egypt

El Salvador

Equatorial Guinea

Eritrea

Estonia

Ethiopia

European Union

Fiji

Finland

France

Gabon

Gambia

Georgia

Germany

Ghana

Greece

Grenada

Guatemala

Guinea

Guinea-Bissau

Guyana

Haiti

Honduras

Hungary

Iceland

India

Indonesia

Iran

Iraq

Ireland

Israel

Italy

Ivory Coast

Jamaica

Japan

Jordan

Kazakhstan

Kenya

Kiribati*

Kuwait

Kyrgyzstan

Laos

Latvia

Lebanon

Lesotho

Liberia

Libya

Liechtenstein*

Lithuania

Luxembourg

Macedonia

Madagascar

Malawi

Malaysia

Maldives*

Mali

Malta

Marshall Islands*

Mauritania

Mauritius*

Mexico

Micronesia*

Moldova

Monaco*

Mongolia

Montenegro*

Morocco

Mozambique

Myanmar

Namibia

Nauru*

Nepal

Netherlands

New Zealand

Niger

Nigeria

Niue*

North Korea

Norway

Oman

Pakistan

Palau*

Palestinian Authority*

Panama

Papua New Guinea

Paraguay

Peru

Philippines

Poland

Portugal

Qatar

Romania

Russia

Rwanda

Samoa

San Marino*

Sao Tome and Principe

Saudi Arabia

Senegal

Serbia*

Seychelles

Sierra Leone

Singapore

Slovakia

Slovenia

Solomon Islands

Somalia

South Africa

South Korea

South Sudan*

Spain

Sri Lanka

St. Kitts and Nevis*

St. Lucia

St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Sudan

Suriname

Swaziland

Sweden

Switzerland

Tajikistan

Tanzania

Thailand

Timor-Leste

Togo

Tonga

Trinidad and Tobago

Tunisia

Turkey

Turkmenistan

Tuvalu

Uganda

Ukraine

United Arab Emirates

United Kingdom

Uruguay

Uzbekistan

Vanuatu

Venezuela

Vietnam

Yemen

Zambia

Zimbabwe

3 countries not part of the agreement

Nicaragua

Syria

United States

*Emissions data not available from the World Bank after 2000.

The U.S.’s withdrawal is especially striking because developing countries, most of which are in the agreement, have a much harder time cutting emissions.

[Why Nicaragua and Syria didn’t join the Paris climate accord]

That’s because “the richest countries have much of their economy in lower-emitting sectors” — think finance and technology rather than manufacturing — and fewer people are deprived of access to energy, according to Robert Lempert, an environmental policy researcher at RAND Corporation. “The U.S. can grow their economy and improve their quality of life without increasing energy use. But in developing countries, you can’t do that.”

NATIONALLY DETERMINED

CONTRIBUTIONS, AS SUBMITTED

TO THE U.N.

Developed country

Developing country

15M kilotons of CO2 equivalent

total greenhouse gas emissions

China

Projected emissions for the U.S. if it were to carry on business as usual.

10M

U.S.

5M

E.U.

India

0

1970

2012

2030

China and India have set goals based on emissions per GDP unit. This means that their projected total emissions goals may change based on actual GDP growth.

China

Reduce emissions per GDP unit by 60 to 65 percent from 2005 levels by 2030

India

Reduce emissions per GDP unit by 33 to 35 percent from 2005 levels by 2030

United States

Reduce emissions by 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025

European Union

Reduce emissions by at least 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2030

NATIONALLY DETERMINED CONTRIBUTIONS, AS SUBMITTED TO THE U.N.

Developed country

Developing country

15M kilotons of CO2-equivalent total greenhouse gas emissions

China

12.5M

China and India have set goals based on emissions per GDP unit. This means that their projected total emissions goals may change based on actual GDP growth.

Projected emissions for the U.S. if it were to carry on business as usual.

10M

7.5M

U.S.

5M

E.U.

2.5M

India

0

1970

2012

2025

2030

China

Reduce emissions per GDP unit by 60 to 65 percent from 2005 levels by 2030

India

Reduce emissions per GDP unit by 33 to 35 percent from 2005 levels by 2030

United States

Reduce emissions by 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025

European Union

Reduce emissions by at least 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2030

NATIONALLY DETERMINED CONTRIBUTIONS,

AS SUBMITTED TO THE U.N.

15M kilotons of CO2 equivalent total greenhouse gas emissions

Developed country

Developing country

China

China

12.5M

Reduce emissions per GDP unit by 60 to 65 percent from 2005 levels by 2030

China and India have set goals based on emissions per GDP unit. This means that their projected total emissions goals may change based on actual GDP growth.

Projected emissions for the U.S. if it were to carry on business as usual.

10M

India

7.5M

Reduce emissions per GDP unit by 33 to 35 percent from 2005 levels by 2030

U.S.

United States

5M

Reduce emissions by 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025

E.U.

European Union

2.5M

Reduce emissions by at least 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2030

India

0

1970

2012

2025

2030

But numerous developing countries nonetheless participate because the Paris agreement has such a decentralized structure. Each country sets its own climate goals, and there’s no legal consequence for missing that goal.

That structure also means the U.S. withdrawal likely won’t spell the end of the agreement — countries have little incentive to leave. China and the European Union, among others, have already reaffirmed their commitments in light of Trump’s comments.

Rather, withdrawal “is going to damage the U.S. much more than it’s going to damage the Paris agreement itself,” said Nat Keohane, vice president for global climate at the Environmental Defense Fund.

What is that damage? “It provides an opportunity for China to exert itself on the global stage” after the U.S. leaves a “leadership vacuum,” said Ann Carlson, an environmental law professor at UCLA. That’s with regards to the climate — the U.S. will lose its seat at the negotiating table to set global emissions monitoring standards — and also diplomacy. Experts on both sides agree leaving the international consensus on climate change will harm the country’s reputation.

“Pulling out of the Paris agreement would be an unforced error in the sense of undermining our diplomatic efforts going forward,” Keohane said. “For the rest of the world this is a central issue for foreign policy.”

People who support leaving the agreement, though, don’t see it this way. “There’s so much fluidity in international politics” that the diplomatic hit would be temporary, said Pat Michaels of the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute.

That said, experts from both sides agree that staying in the Paris agreement alone isn’t enough to keep the U.S. in a role of global environmental leadership. Even if the U.S. remained in the agreement but ignored it by crafting domestic policies that hurt the environment, it would face the same harms.

“Every move the Trump administration has made signals loudly and clearly that the U.S. is not going to address greenhouse gas emissions in any meaningful way,” Carlson said. “Putting aside Paris, we’ve already done that.”

THREE OPTIONS FOR ABANDONING THE AGREEMENT’S EMISSIONS STANDARDS:

They vary with how difficult it would be for a future administration to reverse the decision and begin participating again.

EASIER TO REVERSE

Loosen or intentionally miss emissions target:

The emissions targets are set by each country and aren’t legally binding. The U.S. could miss its target without consequence. And it’s possible, but debated by analysts, that the U.S. could switch to an easier target.

Withdraw from the Paris climate agreement:

The U.S. could withdraw from the climate agreement as early as November 2020, though there may be political pressure to get Senate approval.

Withdraw from the UNFCCC:

With one year’s notice the U.S. could completely withdraw from the U.N.’s climate change treaty. They would need a two-thirds vote in the Senate to re-join, most likely requiring bipartisan support.

HARDER TO REVERSE

THREE OPTIONS FOR ABANDONING THE AGREEMENT’S EMISSIONS STANDARDS:

 

They vary with how difficult it would be for a future administration to reverse the decision and begin participating again.

HARDER TO REVERSE

EASIER TO REVERSE

Loosen or intentionally miss emissions target:

Withdraw from the Paris climate agreement:

Withdraw from the UNFCCC:

The emissions targets are set by each country and aren’t legally binding. The U.S. could miss its target without consequence. And it’s possible, but debated by analysts, that the U.S. could switch to an easier target.

The U.S. could withdraw from the climate agreement as early as November 2020, though there may be political pressure to get Senate approval.

With one year’s notice the U.S. could completely withdraw from the U.N.’s climate change treaty. They would need a two-thirds vote in the Senate to re-join, most likely requiring bipartisan support.

There are several paths for the U.S. to exit the agreement. But regardless how it happens, returning to a role of global environmental leadership under the next administration is possible, and some experts believe, necessary.

Referring to a U.S. withdrawal from the agreement, Keohane said, “If this ends up as a four-year blip on a long-run downward [emissions] trajectory, then the climate can survive it. But the climate won’t be able to survive the long-run absence of U.S. leadership.”

About this story

Originally published May 16, 2017. Sources: Paris agreement parties from United Nations, total greenhouse gas emissions from World Bank, NDC data from United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, projected GDP from OECD, projected U.S. emissions from the State Department via UNFCCC.

Most Read