I hear a lot of people complaining and worrying that it means the US will now destroy the environment. I have heard others that said it meant absolutely nothing because the accord was not a treaty anyway.

So what does it actually mean? Are there any tangible immediate or forecast impacts that are a direct result of the US withdrawal from the accords?

I am not asking about political impacts (i.e. what it will do for any politicians or relationships with the country). I am asking what real world impacts it will have.

The GOP line is that the Accord did nothing, and had no obligation so pulling out does nothing. The Dem position is that this will allow US corporations to pollute more and cause more climate change. They can not both be right.

Specifically are there any laws, regulations, or other government directives that are changed, or that were implemented already to directly support the accord that are removed as a result of the US pulling out?

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    @Machavity I am not asking can it be done, I am asking what the effects of doing it are Jun 7, 2017 at 19:34
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    @SleepingGod That doesn't seem like a duplicate (it specifically asks about political gain for Trump). Benefits for Trump are things like impressing his voters, while the consequences from withdrawing are a broader issue. It may include the benefits for Trump, but also includes issues such as the possibly negative impact on trade, investment, and diplomatic relations, as well as weakening the motivation of other countries to stick to the agreement.
    – tim
    Jun 7, 2017 at 20:49
  • @SleepingGod - That question is about the accord falling apart because the US left, not about the impacts on the US that pulling out would have. Jun 8, 2017 at 16:29

3 Answers 3


It would appear any US laws, regulations, or government directives that may have been created in accordance with the Paris agreement weren't tied officially to the agreement. So any changes to those would require separate action by the president and/or congress.

For example, this Newsweek article provides an example of Trump promising to make a separate effort to roll back specific regulations regarding clean energy:

The president has already signaled, via a March executive order, that he will scrap the Clean Power Plan, a regulation enacted under his Democratic predecessor to curb carbon emissions from electric power plants. The Clean Power Plan, which was already on hold pending the results of a court challenge from Republican governors, was central to President Barack Obama’s plan for meeting the emissions reductions the United States pledged as part of the Paris agreement, which updated the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

I can't find any specific law, regulation, or directive that was set up to be automatically null and void if we pulled out of the Paris Agreement.

As an aside, there may be indirect pros and cons:

Are there any tangible immediate or forecast impacts that are a direct result of the US withdrawal from the accords?

On a tangible level, it's gotten many state and city governments in the US to support it outspokenly including...

30 mayors, three governors, more than 80 university presidents and more than 100 businesses

Ironically(?) it's gotten China--feared as the next big contributor to global warming--to cut agreement directly with California to continue with the paris agreement:

Tuesday's agreement between California and China's Ministry of Science and Technology effectively sidestepped Trump's move, bringing about alignment on an issue of rising global importance between the world's second-largest economy — China — and California, whose economy is the largest of any U.S. state and the sixth largest in the world.

Some pundits are claiming that in terms of global commitment, Trump's decision may actually improve things as other countries decide to step up just to spite us:

Pulling out of the Paris agreement is virtually all about symbolism. There's no legal justification, there's no practical justification for actually removing ourselves from the treaty. What are we signaling and are we having influence on other countries? What's been really interesting to see is that not a single country has pulled back their commitment to the Paris accords. We've actually seen countries like India and China and also the E.U. doubling down on their commitments. So it's having a reverse effect. It's making other nations feel even more committed.

Other pundits speculate that this may give a boost short-term to US oil and coal industries, but cost us in the long term as the globe shifts to renewable energy sources:

Leaving the Paris agreement jeopardizes the U.S.'s ability to be a global leader in new clean technology developments and sell those insights to a world hungry for cheap energy, experts say.

But we're getting into speculation and punditry at that point. I don't think we can say what will actually happen until it does.

  • I updated my answer with more details regarding that specific question.
    – user1530
    Jun 8, 2017 at 15:19
  • @SoylentGray actually, I don't think the rest of the answer makes sense now. I'll just remove that part.
    – user1530
    Jun 8, 2017 at 15:22
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    I think it is great aside or tangential related information that should not be entirely discounted. Its kind of like how planned parenthood actually benefits from sabre rattling in congress about defunding it by exponentially increased donations. Jun 8, 2017 at 15:23
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    @SoylentGray ha! OK, I'll put it back in as a 'ps'. :)
    – user1530
    Jun 8, 2017 at 15:26

The Paris Accords were never a formal treaty with legal obligations. Obama signed them, but they contained no legal commitments. Congress never ratified that signature, nor was there even a non-binding resolution committing to the Paris Accords passed by Congress.

They weren't a formal treaty for any of the nations involved.

Thus, Trump could dispose of that agreement as easily as Obama could commit to it.

Mind you, you did ask for strictly legal fallout. Legally, there will be none because the US participation in the Paris Accords was never a legal agreement or a formal treaty.

  • This is the GOP party line, but the party line is rarely if ever the whole truth of the situation. If it had no obligations then why does pulling out benefit the US? Though maybe that should be a different question Jun 8, 2017 at 16:24
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    The original question was about the legal ramifications, not political. How does pulling out benefit the US? It probably does not benefit the US, although the more I look at the Paris Accords, the more they look like a photo op publicity stunt, because no nation made any sort of legally binding commitment. To go back to the old Clara Peller line: where's the beef?
    – tj1000
    Jun 8, 2017 at 17:30
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    @SoylentGray Legally speaking, pulling out of the agreement does nothing. The whole thing does nothing. It's all for show. Nothing within the Accords required any action or lack of action from any of the signatories. Trump could have stayed in the Paris Accords and then passed a law allowing companies to dump nuclear waste into drinking water. Trump could pull out of the accords and then pass a law banning the sale of gasoline (requiring congress, judiciary, etc).
    – A Bailey
    Jun 8, 2017 at 17:36
  • @ABailey - I am not entirely sure that is true. I guess what I am looking for is to see that demonstrated if it is more than just reciting the GOP Party line im sure every one has heard. I personally assume anything coming out of Washington is at best a half truth about any situation. Regardless of who is saying it. Jun 8, 2017 at 17:40

The Short answer is that there will be no changes to the environment in the short term since it is business as usual and also provisions names in the agreement where not to take effect except over the course of several years.

Consider that the premise of the question is that only this agreement was preventing the country as a whole from polluting more than they were going to anyway and it can be seen that it is absurd.

As is already seen, those who want to (California, Pittsburgh) will make moves towards keeping the spirit of the aggreement which is the whole reason The President insisted on withdrawing. The real reason is that we, as Americans, are in a better position to decide how *green* we can be and we don't need to pay penalties (unless you want to) to help undeveloped countries.

There is alot of fear mongoring around the idea that simply because the President withdrew from it we will be: "wearing face mask like in China". Our standard of living will prevent that if that were to become a problem

Another consideration is that the other countries are still in the agreement. Surely they are comitted and can become green without being dictated to by the US

As a way to show the opposing view (Opposed to mine) Skeptical science Analysis: Paris Pledge predicts a 1 degree celsius by 2100 if the US continues business as usual versus doing what the agreement says. The Agreement will result in an increase of 4 degrees vs 5 by doing nothing.

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    This answer would be significantly improved if the last paragraph was removed. "Do you think climate change is real" was not part of the question, and is a topic that has been discussed ad nauseam many times already. Remember this site is not a general discussion forum! Try to keep your answer contained to what is actually being asked! It's not verboten to mention that climate change may not be real. For example a line "according to many conservatives climate change is unproven, so from their point of view nothing would change" is perfectly fine and objective. But that's not what you did.
    – user11249
    Jun 7, 2017 at 22:55
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    100% of climate scientist huh? I have read extensively. The figure is 97% agree that there is a warming trend as in the percentage of papers written, However, alot less think it is due to man (These figures are from Cook et. al (2013)). My main problem is the predicted warming has not come about. Jun 7, 2017 at 23:07
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    This isn't really what I was looking for and really lacks supporting references to back up the claims. Jun 8, 2017 at 14:46
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    @bishop - That number drops dramatically when you include the scientists unwilling to commit either way. Jun 8, 2017 at 14:47

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