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The US exits Paris: Can the EU drive international climate action?

The Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the Paris agreement will make its implementation more challenging. The United States (US) had been instrumental in brokering a successful deal in Paris and speeding the ratification process for an early entry into force of the agreement. While the US remains party to the agreement for the next four years, its involvement in upcoming international climate discussions remains uncertain. Meanwhile, policy developments in the country such as the “Energy Independence Executive Order” indicate that the current administration has currently no intention to fulfil the pledge made by the previous one to lower CO2 emissions by 26 to 28% below 2005 levels in 2025.

But far from bringing international climate action to a standstill, the US government’s position has, on the contrary, prompted decision-makers around the world to reaffirm their commitment to the implementation of the Paris agreement. This provides fertile ground for the European Union (EU) to play a key role in the long process to turn the pledges made in Paris into action. To lead the process, the EU must deepen existing partnerships and seek new ones. It needs to ensure that big emitters actively pursue policies aimed at lowering emissions while providing support to developing countries especially those that are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

In the US, the Trump administration’s position on climate change is not shared by a large number of states, cities and businesses. They have voiced their opposition to the policies of the federal government and their commitment to the objectives of the Paris agreement. This should prompt the EU to increase its cooperation with subnational actors to stimulate climate mitigation actions in the US.

This an executive summary of a paper written by Romain Pardo who is a Policy Analyst in the Sustainable Prosperity for Europe Programme at the European Policy Centre (EPC). The full paper can be downloaded at

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