The United States officially withdrew from the Paris Agreement to fight climate change on Wednesday. Leaders from around the world approved the agreement in 2015 at a conference in the French capital.
For more than two years, American President Donald Trump talked about withdrawing from the treaty. Last year, the Trump administration announced the U.S. decision to withdraw. However, the results of the presidential election could decide for how long. Trump’s main opponent in the vote, former Vice President Joe Biden, has promised to rejoin the climate agreement if he is elected.
More than 180 countries remain committed to the 2015 Paris accord. The agreement aims to limit the increase in average temperatures worldwide to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius, and ideally no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. Those increases are compared to temperature levels before Europe’s Industrial Revolution.
Scientists say that any temperature increase greater than 2 degrees Celsius could have a disastrous effect on large parts of the world. Such an increase, they say, could raise sea levels, fuel powerful storms and worsen droughts and floods.
The Paris accord requires countries to set their own targets for cutting production of carbon dioxide and other gases linked to rising temperatures. The only legal requirement is that national governments must truthfully report on their efforts.
The United States is the world’s second biggest producer of heat-trapping gases, after China. In recent weeks, China, Japan and South Korea have joined the European Union (EU) and other countries in setting national targets to stop pumping more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Biden, the Democratic Party’s candidate for president, has said he supports calls for the United States to return to the Paris accord.
On Wednesday, Germany’s government said it was “highly regrettable” that the United States had left the accord. “It’s all the more important that Europe, the EU and Germany lead by example,” government spokesman Paul Seibert said.
While the Trump administration has rejected federal measures to cut greenhouse gases, Seibert noted that U.S. states, cities and businesses have pushed ahead with their own efforts.
I’m Ashley Thompson.
The Reuters news agency and The Associated Press reported this story. George Grow adapted the reports for VOA Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.
Words in This Story
commit – v. to agree to
ideally – adv. used to say what should happen or be done to produce the best results
greenhouse gas – n. pollutants shown to cause rising temperature in Earth's atmosphere
drought – n. a long period of little or no rainfall, leading to water shortages
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