The U.S. Won’t Actually Leave the Paris Climate Deal Anytime Soon

Mr. Trump has offered to “renegotiate” the Paris deal, because he says other countries are “laughing at us” while they renege on their pledges. While countries like France and Germany have ruled out a broad renegotiation of the agreement, the United States could nonetheless try to shape the rules from within.

“The question is whether the Trump administration still shows up for those discussions,” said Andrew Light, a senior climate change adviser at the State Department under President Barack Obama. “If they really are pushing to ‘renegotiate’ the deal, as they say, I don’t see why they wouldn’t go.”

Another thing to watch this fall: a growing coalition of states, cities and companies that are pledging to do as much as they can to meet the United States’ climate goals on their own. They will probably send a delegation to Bonn to reassure other countries that the United States is not completely out of the game.

November 2018

Everyone agrees that current pledges under the Paris agreement are nowhere near sufficient to keep total global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius, the threshold widely deemed unacceptably risky.

So, starting in 2018, countries have agreed to meet every five years to take stock of their emissions-cutting efforts to date, compare them with what is needed to stay below 2 degrees of warming, and then figure out how to ratchet up their ambitions. As part of this effort, countries will urge one another to make their existing pledges on emissions stronger. The Paris deal was meant to work through peer pressure, and experts say this “global stocktake” exercise is crucial for that.

The United States is also free to join these discussions, but it seems unlikely that the Trump administration will submit a stronger pledge. Some experts also fear that the United States could play a spoiler role in these discussions, in much the way that major oil producers like Saudi Arabia or…

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