The US has begun the process of withdrawing from the Paris Agreement

 
 

The US has begun the process of withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, notifying the UN of its intention to leave, as other countries express regret and disappointment at the move.

I wrote about this decision back in 2017 when president Trump announced his campaign policy of withdrawing once in power, a decision that for me was undoubtably a blow to my many years of advocating green policies around the world. In reaction to the announcement I created the series 'Dream of democracy'. The American stars and stripes flag re-created as a sculpture from thousands of flower petals laced with pure gold the now recognised brand colour of President Trump

Todays notification begins a one-year process of exiting the global climate change accord, culminating the day after the 2020 US election. The US government says the deal puts an "unfair economic burden" on Americans. The agreement brought together 188 nations to combat climate change. There has been widespread international condemnation of the US move.

The Paris accord, agreed in 2015, committed the US and 187 other countries to keeping rising global temperatures below 2C above pre-industrial levels and attempting to limit them even more, to a 1.5C rise.

The decision to withdraw - taken by President Donald Trump after he came to office in 2017 - made the US the world's sole non-signatory and prompted high-level efforts by the European Union to keep the agreement on track. The US issued its formal notification on the first day it was possible to do so. Mr Trump had made withdrawing from the agreement one of his election campaign pledges but UN rules had meant it was not possible for the US to start the withdrawal process until 4 November 2019.

The withdrawal is still subject to the outcome of next year's US presidential election - if Mr Trump loses, the winner may decide to change course.

Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic speaker of the House, condemned Mr Trump's move as a "disastrous decision that sells out our children's future", while former vice-president and climate campaigner Al Gore derided those who would "sacrifice the planet for their greed".

"It is about the darkest moment in American diplomacy in a very, very long time and a huge blow to global efforts," Bill McKibben, leader of climate campaign group 350.org, told the BBC's Newsday programme.

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT - what the Paris Accord promises.....

Climate change, or global warming, refers to the damaging effect on the atmosphere of gases, or emissions, released from industry and agriculture. The Paris accord is meant to limit the global rise in temperature attributed to emissions.

Countries agreed to:

- Keep global temperatures "well below" the level of 2C (3.6F) above pre-industrial times and "endeavour to limit" them even more, to 1.5C
- Limit the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by human activity to the same levels that trees, soil and oceans can absorb naturally, beginning at some point between 2050 and 2100
- Review each country's contribution to cutting emissions every five years so they scale up to the challenge
- Enable rich countries to help poorer nations by providing "climate finance" to adapt to climate change and switch to renewable energy