Blog Post

President Trump: what next for global climate action?

The new Trump presidency might now signal a U-turn in the United States’ international climate policies.

By: and Date: November 9, 2016 Topic: Energy & Climate

Under President Barack Obama, the United States assumed a leading role in the global fight against climate change.

The 2015 Paris Agreement would probably not have materialised without Obama. He played a central role in committing the United States, for the first time, to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and also in engaging emerging countries in the process.

The road to Paris started to look really possible when, in November 2014, the United States engaged in a landmark deal with China that put the world’s two largest greenhouse gas emitters in lockstep to cut emissions.

In September 2016, when the United States and China ratified the Paris Agreement, the European Union was prompted to follow, enabling the agreement to enter into force at an unprecedented speed.

The new Trump presidency might now signal a U-turn in the United States’ international climate policies. During the electoral campaign, Donald Trump reinforced his climate-sceptic profile, defining climate change as a ‘‘hoax of the Chinese government’’, and promising to withdraw from the Paris Agreement and to immediately stop ‘‘all payments of the United States’ tax dollars to United Nations’ global warming programmes’.

However, with the Paris Agreement having entered into force, President Trump will not be able, in legal terms, to withdraw from the deal during his first term. In fact, he would be able to trigger Article 28 (a provision allowing countries to withdraw from the Agreement, in Brexit terms the Article 50 of the Paris Agreement) only three years after the Paris Agreement’s entry into force, and it would then be another year before it took effect. By that time, November 2020, Trump’s first term would be over.

President Trump will not be able, in legal terms, to withdraw from the deal during his first term.

However, President Trump will have two other options to change the United States’ international climate trajectory.

The first would be to directly pull out of the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change –the umbrella agreement for the Paris Agreement – and this would also be considered legally as a withdrawal from the Paris Agreement itself. This radical option, paradoxically, would be easier to achieve than withdrawal from the Paris Agreement alone. In fact, it might be attainable within the first year of the presidency.

The second option would be to simply ignore the international climate commitments assumed by President Obama, and accordingly reshape the United States’ energy and climate policy. This option would be as damaging for global climate action as US withdrawal from the UNFCCC. Without a strong commitment from the historically biggest greenhouse gas emitter, emerging countries like China and India might raise questions over own climate efforts.

In short, if President Trump is to maintain his stated positions on climate change from the electoral campaign, overall global action against climate change will be structurally weakened. Even if he takes no drastic action, a lack of global climate leadership is in any case likely.

A lack of global climate leadership is in any case likely

In this context, Europe will emerge as the leading force underpinning the developed world’s global climate effort. Europe should swiftly understand this new responsibility, and strengthen its engagement with China and other countries to keep up momentum and decisively proceed along the road defined in Paris.


Republishing and referencing

Bruegel considers itself a public good and takes no institutional standpoint. Anyone is free to republish and/or quote this post without prior consent. Please provide a full reference, clearly stating Bruegel and the relevant author as the source, and include a prominent hyperlink to the original post.

Read article More on this topic More by this author
 

Blog Post

US separates climate concerns from financial oversight in contrast to EU activism

Different EU and US supervisory approaches to climate risk may hamper efforts to work together and risk fragmenting global markets.

By: Rebecca Christie Topic: Finance & Financial Regulation Date: February 18, 2021
Read about event More on this topic
 

Past Event

Past Event

Prospects for the US climate policy under the Biden Administration

How US climate policy is likely to evolve, and which international impacts can be expected?

Speakers: Jason Bordoff, Kate Marvel, Michael Mehling, Robert N. Stavins, Leah Stokes and Simone Tagliapietra Topic: Energy & Climate Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: February 17, 2021
Read about event
 

Past Event

Past Event

Building back greener: sustainable finance and the Green Deal

How could additional regulation incentivise investment while upholding the integrity of sustainable finance?

Speakers: Klaas Knot, Sean Kidney, Alexander Lehmann, Isabelle Mateos y Lago and Philipp von Restorff Topic: Energy & Climate, Finance & Financial Regulation Date: February 11, 2021
Read article More on this topic
 

Blog Post

Carbon border adjustment in the United States: not easy, but not impossible either

President Biden has promised to implement a levy on carbon-intensive imports, albeit without a federal domestic carbon price. The measure faces a number of difficulties, but could feasibly be implemented. The route chosen by the US will have important implications for the EU's own plans.

By: Ben McWilliams and Simone Tagliapietra Topic: Energy & Climate Date: February 11, 2021
Read about event More on this topic
 

Past Event

Past Event

The geopolitics of the Green Deal

Join us to mark the launch of the eponymous paper co-written with the European Council on Foreign Relations.

Speakers: Stefano Grassi, Mark Leonard, Simone Tagliapietra, Jennifer Tollmann, Marc Vanheukelen and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: Energy & Climate Date: February 3, 2021
Read about event Download PDF More on this topic
 

Past Event

Past Event

Europe and India: Comparing Approaches to Global Economic Challenges

Stakeholders from government, private sector, media and academia/institutions come together to review India-EU relations and point to a promising direction for the future.

Speakers: Yamini Aiyar, Suman Bery, Navroz K Dubash, Ignacio Garcia Bercero, Alicia García-Herrero, Rajat Kathuria, Gautam Mukhopadhaya, Ananth Padmanabhan, Georgios Petropoulos, André Sapir, Shyam Saran, Simone Tagliapietra and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: December 15, 2020
Read article More on this topic More by this author
 

Opinion

Europe should promote a Climate Club after the US elections

Time has come for Europe, the US and possibly China to create a global “Climate Club”.

By: Guntram B. Wolff Topic: Energy & Climate Date: December 10, 2020
Read article More on this topic More by this author
 

Podcast

Podcast

The big brother is back?

With the Biden administration, there might be a difference in style, rather than a difference in trends.

By: The Sound of Economics Date: November 13, 2020
Read article More on this topic More by this author
 

Opinion

2021 can be a climate breakthrough, but Biden and Europe need to talk

"2021 can be a breakthrough year for climate: the new US administration and the EU have a real opportunity, through a ‘global net zero coalition’, to remove some of the key bottlenecks in the global path to climate neutrality."

By: Simone Tagliapietra Topic: Energy & Climate Date: November 9, 2020
Read article Download PDF More on this topic
 

External Publication

Perspective of comprehensive and comprehensible multi-model energy and climate science in Europe

A comprehensive and comprehensible multi-model framework offers a real example of “collective” science diplomacy, as an instrument to further support the ambitious goals of the EU Green Deal, in compliance with the EU claim to responsible research.

By: Alexandros Nikas, Ajay Gambhir, Evelina Trutnevyte, Konstantinos Koasidis, Henrik Lund, Jakob Zinck Thellufsen, Didier Mayer, Georg Zachmann, Luis Javier Miguel, Noelia Ferreras Alonso, Ida Sognnæs, Glen Peters, Enzo Colombo, Mark Howells, Adam D. Hawkes, Machteld Van Den Broek, Dirk-Jan van de Ven, Mikel Gonzalez-Eguino, Alexandros Flamos and Haris Doukas Topic: Energy & Climate Date: November 5, 2020
Read article More on this topic More by this author
 

Opinion

Understanding the world of tomorrow through the great challenges of energy and climate change

“Only a broad policy framework – taking into account economic, fiscal, industrial, labour, innovation and social policy issues – can address the challenges of the climate crisis in a balanced way.”

By: Simone Tagliapietra Topic: Energy & Climate Date: October 26, 2020
Read article More on this topic More by this author
 

Blog Post

The European climate law needs a strong just transition fund

To deliver on the goals of the European climate law, the European Union needs finally to get coal out of its energy mix: the EU should quicken the pace of decarbonisation whilst delivering on its goal of social inclusion.

By: Simone Tagliapietra Topic: Energy & Climate Date: October 6, 2020
Load more posts