The Paris Agreement and American Leadership

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President Donald Trump’s decision to unilaterally withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement this June was met with immediate outcry from both domestic opponents of the president and international partners. Business leaders like Elon Musk of SpaceX and Bob Iger of Disney quit White House advisory councils in protest, the leaders of Italy, France, and Germany immediately released a statement reaffirming their commitment to the agreement, and even oil industry leaders like Exxon Mobil lobbied the administration to stay in the treaty.

Nearly two months later, many view the decision to leave Paris as a crucial turning point, marking not only the Trump Administration’s retreat from international climate initiatives, but also its retreat from America’s traditional role of global leadership. However, others argue that such fears are overblown. They point out that the climate goals of the agreement were not binding and unevenly proportioned, thus dragging the U.S. into an unfair deal that traded long term economic sacrifices for an insignificant environmental return.

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