The Atlantic

Will the Paris Agreement Be Stronger Without the United States?

Trump could water down the treaty, making it harder for other countries to tackle climate change.
Source: Mal Langsdon / Reuters

The Paris Agreement on climate change works by a delicate bit of magic.

The treaty aims to reduce the world’s greenhouse-gas emissions, but it legally requires no one to actually stop emitting greenhouse gases. Instead, it advances a set of loose and voluntary norms for getting to the final goal. In 2015, every country announced a (nonbinding) plan in which they promised to (eventually) slow down pumping carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere. In 2018, and every five years afterward, all the countries will get together again and announce new promises.

This looseness was intentional. The accord’s architects hoped to nudge everyone into bringing down their emissions together

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