By Frank Jordan and Seth Borenstein
The Associated Press
BERLIN » The United States on Wednesday formally left the Paris Agreement, a global pact it helped forge five years ago to avert the threat of catastrophic climate change.
The move, long threatened by U.S. President Donald Trump and triggered by his administration a year ago, further isolates Washington in the world but has no immediate impact on international efforts to curb global warming.
Still, the U.N. agency that oversees the treaty, France as the host of the 2015 Paris talks and three countries currently chairing the body that organizes them — Chile, Britain and Italy — issued a joint statement expressing regret at the U.S. withdrawal.
“There is no greater responsibility than protecting our planet and people from the threat of climate change,” the statement said. “The science is clear that we must urgently scale up action and work together to reduce the impacts of global warming and to ensure a greener, more resilient future for us all. The Paris Agreement provides the right framework to achieve this.”
“We remain committed to working with all U.S. stakeholders and partners around the world to accelerate climate action, and with all signatories to ensure the full implementation of the Paris Agreement,” they added.
The next planned round of U.N. climate talks takes place in Glasgow, Scotland, in 2021. At present, 189 countries have ratified the accord, which aims to keep the increase in average temperatures worldwide “well below” 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius ), ideally no more than 2.7 F (1.5C), compared to pre-industrial levels. A further six countries have signed, but not ratified the pact.
Scientists say that any rise beyond 2 degrees Celsius could have a devastating impact on large parts of the world, raising sea levels, stoking tropical storms and worsening droughts and floods.
The world has already warmed 2.2 degrees Fahrenheit (1.2 degrees Celsius) since pre-industrial time, so the efforts are really about preventing another 0.5 to 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit (0.3 to 0.7 degrees Celsius) warming from now.
The Paris accord requires countries to set their own voluntary targets for reducing greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, and to steadily increase those goals every few years. The only binding requirement is that nations have to accurately report on their efforts.
White House spokesman Judd Deere said the accord “shackles economies and has done nothing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”