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USA - The U.S. Has Officially Left the Paris Agreement. What Happens Next?

The withdrawal has been expected for years, but marks “a bitter moment,” experts say.

On Wednesday, November 4, the United States officially withdrew from the Paris Agreement - the landmark international accord to keep climate change in check and limit future greenhouse gas emissions. The exit occurs regardless of the outcome of Tuesday’s vote, but the winner of the presidential election will decide whether to stay out or to rejoin the landmark climate deal.

The U.S. is now the only major country in the world not committed to the accord, which aims to keep global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial temperatures. It is no surprise—President Trump announced his intention to leave the agreement in 2017 and began proceedings to do so in November 2019. But the move is in keeping with Trump’s agenda to reduce efforts to address climate change in recent years, says Kate Larsen, an analyst at the climate-focused Rhodium Group.

A future president can decide to rejoin the pact at any time, but will have to revise the country’s plans and submit new, more ambitious goals—which may be more difficult to reach after several years of delays, says Andrew Light, a climate expert at the World Resources Institute and an architect of the agreement reached under President Obama. But even without federal support, the U.S. has made progress toward decarbonisation, and that forward motion is likely to continue with or without membership in the accord.

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