Last reviewed 11 November 2020

The USA has formally ended its commitment to the UN Paris climate change treaty which the country signed four years ago in a global effort to avoid catastrophic climate change.

In 2017, the then newly elected President Trump announced his intensions to pull America out of the Accord in 2017, but UN regulations meant his decision only takes effect from 4 November, the day after the US election.

At the time, President Trump said the Paris Accord disadvantaged the United States, “to the exclusive benefit of other countries” and that he would not implement it.

The USA is the world’s second largest polluters, representing around 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions, A number of American States have chosen to ignore the President’s ruling and have initiate their own voluntary “sub-national pledges” to cut greenhouse gas emissions, in line with UN climate commitments.

The USA is the first country in the world to leave the Paris agreement, and now joins war-torn Syria as the only two countries in the world not to be part of the Paris agreement. At the time of the President’s announcement, there was growing concern that other countries might also pull out, but that has not materialised.

Speaking to newspaper group “I”, Chair of the climate think tank, Tom Burke, said: “America leaving would have been very significant if others had followed. Because it would have threatened the whole global regime for managing climate change. The rest of the world has stayed united on climate change.”

In London, a group representing European and US investors with a collective $30 trillion in assets have released a statement urging the USA to re-join the global accord.

Mindy Lubber, Chief Executive of sustainability advocacy group Ceres, which also signed the statement, described President Trump’s decision as a “monumental mistake.”

“There’s a reason investors are standing up and saying let’s get back into the Paris Agreement because they believe it’s good for the economy as well as good for the environment and our future,” Lubber told Reuters newsgroup.

A joint statement released by the UK Government and other signatories to the Paris climate agreement said:

“We note with regret that the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement has formally come into effect today. As we look towards COP26 in Glasgow, we remain committed to working with all US stakeholders and partners around the world to accelerate climate action, and with all signatories to ensure the full implementation of the Paris Agreement.”

It has now since been reported that US President-elect Joe Biden will reverse his predecessor’s decision to pull out of a landmark global climate pact.