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Sergey Chestnoy, Dinara Gershinkova

USA Withdrawal from Paris Agreement – What Next?

2017. Vol. 12. No. 4. P. [issue contents]

In June 2017, President Trump announced the USA’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord, which had been ratified for less than a year, thanks in large part to the USA. That drastic shift followed the change in residency at the White House. Withdrawing from the Paris Accord presents an interesting topic for analysis. There’s the practical side of the withdrawal procedure as set out in Article 28 of the agreement, not to mention the consequences of US non-participation in addressing international climate issues. There are other international forums (Such as G8 and G20), which also have an interest in climate related topics.

The Article analyses the U.S. position in negotiations and its commitments assumed the moment the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) came into effect until now: the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, financial aid and reporting. It also provides general analysis of national legal obligations under the Paris Accord, ratification of that agreement in general and in particularly another that took place in the USA, it focuses on the specifics of withdrawal. The specified three-year period from the Agreement becoming active, after which any party may withdraw from it (2019), is a noteworthy detail.

It is well-known that the Paris Agreement provides a framework that does not impose individual national commitments or a commitment to a compliance system. In essence, and from a legal point of view, it is non-binding. This was what allowed the USA to accept the terms of the accord relatively quickly and to use the simplified procedure, which by-passed Congress. In the opinion of the authors, President Trump’s resolution to withdraw should, possibly, be considered as a simple continuation of his election discourse and the fulfilment of a campaign promise. Additionally, President Trump’s declared intent to review the Paris Accord has legal grounds on which to launch further international negotiations, consequently that will never come to pass.

The Article was been written based on the analysis of resolutions passed at conferences attended by parties to the UNFCCC, other UN documents and international forums, the laws and regulations of the Russian Federation, information published by international legal experts and mass media coverage of the topic.

The Article sums up the consequences of US withdrawal from the Paris Accord, noting that the Agreement’s status will not change after the USA withdraws. The Accord will remain in force having become effective in 2016 and the US will remain a party to the fundamental UN Climate Convention. The reduction in contributions to the Green Climate Fund will undoubtedly limit the project’s potential in developing economies. A ‘domino effect’ is not inconceivable – with similar resolutions following the U.S. example, Turkey for example has announced the likelihood that it too will suspend ratification. There is though still time before 2019 for the U.S. to change its position. 

Citation: Chestnoy S., Gershinkova D. (2017) Withdrawal of the USA from the ParisAgreement – What is Next? International Organisations Research Journal , vol. 12, no 4.
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