Typically, Donald Trump has both sides tripping over themselves over an action taken by Trump. In this case it was the announcement that the United States was withdrawing from the Paris Accords. The anti-Trumpistas are outraged that Trump has taken away from the United States the prestige it held on the world stage as the leader of the world union. Instead and as promised, Trump has made America First the official doctrine of the country. Under the America First doctrine, the U.S government prioritizes U.S. citizens over the rest of the world in setting policy. The Trump supporters gleefully celebrate that Trump is setting policy by prioritizing U.S. citizens over everyone else. Withdrawing from the Paris Accords symbolizes this. Except that it is all fake.
For all the bellyaching from both sides, Donald Trump’s announcement last week that the United States was withdrawing from the Paris Accords is nothing more than fake news. Yes. The United States has officially started the ball on officially withdrawing from the accord. But that means nothing.
First and foremost, the Paris Accords were nothing more than a gentlemen’s agreement between the nations that they would abide by the terms of the agreement. There are no enforcement mechanisms, which means that if any of the countries that signed the agreement did nothing there would be no penalties for them. Any of the signatories can simply say, sorry we tried reducing greenhouse emissions but we didn’t meet our goal. Or, any of the countries can say, sorry we changed our mind and we aren’t going to meet our targets. There are no penalties and thus nothing to stop any of the countries from ignoring their promises.
The United States could have ignored its promises and moved on.
But, because Trump agreed to follow the withdrawal process, he is basically punting the ball three and a half years down the road. You see, the official process to withdraw from the accords means that the United States cannot officially begin the process of withdrawing until November of 2019. Even then, the process will take a year, meaning that at the earliest, the United States will be out of the accords on November 2020.
Here is most insidious part of the whole thing. The Paris Accords are completely voluntary. This means that each of the fifty states of the country could individually agree to follow the accord protocols. Even if a state chooses not to do so, a municipality or even a manufacturer could choose to comply voluntarily.
In other words, the United States could largely adhere to the protocols even though the United States is not officially a party to the accords. Already major companies and several state and local governments have signaled their intention to comply with the provisions of the accord.
So, what did Trump actually accomplish? Nothing!