On June 1st, 2017, Trump stunned everyone by declaring that the U.S. would be pulling out of the Paris Accords, despite the fact that they set a new precedent of nations all coming together to form a unanimous front against climate change.
Even though Trump didn’t specify during the press conference when exactly this would take place, it was generally considered that his decision was made and there was nothing anyone could do to change it.
Yet, on Saturday, an unexpected turn of events took place: the Wall Street Journal published an article stating that the “Trump Administration seeks to Avoid Withdrawal From Paris Climate Accord […]”. It cited the Spanish European Commissioner since November 2014, Miguel Arias Cañete, according to whom the United States would not be pulling out of the Paris accords.
“The U.S. has stated that they will not renegotiate the Paris accord, but they will try to review the terms on which they could be engaged under this agreement” – Miguel Arias Cañete
This completely disregards what Trump has said in the past, which includes some pretty inflammatory statements such as “The Paris accord is very unfair at the highest level to the United States.” and “We’re getting out.” So what exactly is going on?
And the surprises didn’t end there: just after the Wall Street Journal put up the aforementioned article, the White House’s spokesperson, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, straight up denied the Wall Street Journal’s claims.
“Our position on the Paris agreement has not changed. @POTUS has been clear, US withdrawing unless we get pro-America terms,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted.
Pulling out of the accords, permitted by article 28 of the text, is not exactly a quick and simple process. If Trump still wants to leave the accords, he will have to wait three full years from when they were applied (4th November 2016 ), to even be able to legally express his desire to leave. From there, he will have to wait another year for it to be taken into account.
In a letter sent on the 4th of August to the United Nations, the Trump administration had already used similar language to that of Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s. Stating that the administration “intends to exercise its right to withdraw from the agreement,” the letter read, “unless the United States identifies suitable terms for re-engagement.”. With the conditional “except if,” the White House first hinted that they might stay in the pact. As of now, it remains unclear what Trump intends to do about the agreement, but seems to be maintaining a “one foot in the door, one foot out the door” attitude about it.
Photo: Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America (Donald Trump) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons