When the COP21 was signed, a lock was added binding the countries entering it for 4 years, counting from November 4, 2016.

Commitments from other countries push accord forward and is set to be activated on 4 November after the EU, Canada and India ratify the agreement


However, the ratification locks countries into the deal for four years, so an immediate US exit wouldn’t be possible.

-- https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/oct/05/obama-paris-climate-deal-ratification

The emphasis in the above quote is mine.

On June 1st, 2017, President Donald Trump announced the US would withdraw from it.

So whenever Trump will have all the paperwork done, will the US still bound by the agreement until November 2020, or has Trump actually found a way to "exit" it sooner?

  • 2
    does the agreement specify the "bad things" that would happen to those not honouring the 4 years? no? then what would they care? [/snark]
    – Federico
    Commented Jun 2, 2017 at 8:37
  • 3
    Who signed the Paris Agreement? Did they have the Constitutional authority to do so? Commented Jun 2, 2017 at 14:41
  • Given the number of states and cities publicly stating that they are still going to adhere to the Paris Agreement, I'd argue that, "effectively", never.
    – user1530
    Commented Jun 2, 2017 at 16:55
  • (Or are you asking "officially" rather than "effectively"?)
    – user1530
    Commented Jun 2, 2017 at 16:56
  • @blip No, I'm asking "effectively" for the US as a single entity represented by the Trump administration. Cities and states are other entities. Commented Jun 3, 2017 at 8:08

2 Answers 2


There are 2 ways to exit from the agreement as described in this article by CNN.

1. Paris Agreement's Article 28 (the normal way)

Here's what the Paris Agreement's Article 28 stipulates:

  1. At any time after three years from the date on which this Agreement has entered into force for a Party, that Party may withdraw from this Agreement by giving written notification to the Depositary.

  2. Any such withdrawal shall take effect upon expiry of one year from the date of receipt by the Depositary of the notification of withdrawal, or on such later date as may be specified in the notification of withdrawal.

A country can only exit the agreement until 4 years after the agreement goes into effect. Since the agreement entered into force in November 2016, the US can only exit earliest in Nov 2020.

2. Exit the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

Article 28 also states:

  1. Any Party that withdraws from the Convention shall be considered as also having withdrawn from this Agreement.

Thus, by withdrawing from the UNFCCC, the US will be withdrawn from the agreement. However, it still takes one year to exit the UNFCCC, so the US will be able to exit earliest by next year.

"The US could withdraw from the UNFCCC with one year's notice, which would also effectuate a withdrawal from the (Paris agreement)," Arizona State University law professor Dan Bodansky told him.

However, the US can effectively ignore the agreement until its official exit as there are no consequences should a country not comply with it.

  • Is there any hint on which option was chosen by the Trump administration? Commented Jun 2, 2017 at 11:14
  • @OlivierGrégoire I don't think any official mentioned anything yet so it's still unclear but these are the ways to exit the agreement.
    – Panda
    Commented Jun 2, 2017 at 11:35
  • But did the United States really sign the agreement? Congress didn't ratify it. Commented Jun 5, 2017 at 21:19

Officially/formally, I think Panda's answer is about the best we can get right now. Trump isn't exactly known as a "details guy" and it's possible he hasn't even thought through the details.

Effectively, though...in the context of the typical definition:

actually but not officially or explicitly.

...the answer may be: never.

Now based on your comments, you may not believe in that definition, but I still think it's worth pointing out as it's a somewhat unique situation we are in at the moment. The President of the United States has made a decision that not only contradicts 200 other countries but also wide swaths of his own country. For example:

  • A large number of American corporations have publicly spoken out against pulling out from the Paris Agreement including some of the biggest such as Apple, Microsoft and Google
  • Over 80 Mayors of US cities have declared they will adhere to the Paris Agreement despite Trump's decision.
  • Governors from some some of the larger economy states such as CA, NY and WA (see above citation) have teamed up with several other states to form the US Climate Alliance which has committed to upholding the Paris Agreement.

So while officially the Federal Government may be able to opt out, it looks like a chunk of the United States is going to disregard the president's desires and continue supporting the Paris Agreement.

  • Stop putting words in my mouth. I'm not saying I don't believe that definition: I'm saying that given the context, there are enough information in the question to limit itself to the US as represented by the Trump administration. You're playing on words and not answering the question as a whole, but only what you think its title says, despite this being clarified in the question and in the comments. Commented Jun 6, 2017 at 0:14
  • @OlivierGrégoire If you don't like people playing with words...well, that is politics. :)
    – user1530
    Commented Jun 6, 2017 at 0:23
  • Just downvote my question and move on. Seriously! Commented Jun 6, 2017 at 0:29
  • @OlivierGrégoire I'm not sure why you'd want me to downvote you. I thought it was an interesting question. So provided an answer. I think you're maybe reading too much into my answer.
    – user1530
    Commented Jun 6, 2017 at 0:32
  • 1. I'm asking a question about politics, not asking to play politics. 2. Why downvote my question? You admitted my question needs serious editing, implying it is unclear, implying it should be downvoted (see SE rules). 3. Why don't I like your answer? Because it's only worth a comment. The states, cities, citizens and companies haven't signed the agreement: the US presidency did. The states, cities, citizens and companies might want to sign the agreement, but they didn't sign it (yet, if ever). 4. Finally, you have also right to edit questions. Commented Jun 6, 2017 at 8:23

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