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New op-ed argues for U.S. to stay in Paris Agreement

Leaving the Paris Agreement would be an “illogical act of self-harm” for the United States, argues Future Earth Anthropocene analyst Owen Gaffney in a new editorial. The commentary was published this week in New Scientist. In it, Owen Gaffney writes that the nation’s departure would likely not derail this landmark climate pact, which nearly 150 countries have ratified. But it might make the United States less competitive in the global push to transition from fossil fuel-burning to renewable energy sources like solar and wind power.

On the campaign trail, President Donald Trump promised to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement, but he has yet to make a final decision on whether to stay or go.

Gaffney is a regular contributor to the comments section of New Scientist. In his latest article, he writes:

Ultimately, though, whichever path Trump takes, I don’t believe he will badly dent the massive market forces driving decarbonisation. The fact this is happening despite fossil fuel subsidies worth $5.3 trillion (or over $140 per ton of carbon dioxide emitted) shows the world has reached a tipping point. Decarbonisation may now be an unstoppable force.

World nations agreed on the Paris Agreement in 2015 at the watershed 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The pact seeks to limit the rise in global temperatures from climate change to 2 degrees Celsius by empowering nations to reduce their fossil fuel emissions.

Future Earth and its global research projects support wide-ranging research to help the world move toward low-carbon economies. To learn more about some of these efforts, see recent articles on trends in carbon dioxide and methane emissions and on the impacts of rising emissions on  photosynthesis worldwide.