Amid raging wildfires, heavy rains, and tornadoes— all of which have been linked to climate change—the United States is set to exit the Paris Agreement on November 4, one day after the presidential election. President Trump, who has said that the global agreement to confront catastrophic climate change was a “total disaster” for the United States, formally issued the required one-year notice of withdrawal last November. Former Vice President Joe Biden has stated that he would re-enter the U.S. into the Paris agreement if he wins the 2020 election.
The 2015 Paris Agreement seeks to limit the “global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels,” and ideally less than 1.5 degrees Celsius. Nations set their own goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions through nationally determined contributions (NDCs).
The U.S. had pledged to reduce its 2005 carbon emissions by 26 to28% by the year 2025. Despite withdrawing from the agreement, U.S. carbon emissions are projected to be 20 to 21% below 2005 levels, indicating that the U.S. might meet its NDC target by 2025 regardless of whether it remains party to the agreement. The drop in emissions is at least in part due to reduced industrial activity as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Worldwide, the nonprofit Climate Action Tracker indicates that the majority of countries are not reducing emissions rapidly enough to meet the Paris goals; only developing countries (which are not major contributors to climate change anyway) are emitting at a level consistent with the Paris goals.
Jennifer A. Dlouhy & Emily Chasan, Global Warming, Paris and a Stark Trump-Biden Divide, Bloomberg Green (Sept. 18, 2020, 10:53 AM), https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-09-18/global-warming-paris-and-a-stark-trump-biden-divide-quicktake-kf8fwhms.
 United Nations, The Paris Agreement, https://unfccc.int/process-and-meetings/the-paris-agreement/the-paris-agreement (last visited Sept. 30, 2020).
 United Nations, Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), https://unfccc.int/process-and-meetings/the-paris-agreement/the-paris-agreement/nationally-determined-contributions-ndcs (last visited Sept. 30, 2020).
 Dlouhy, supra note 1.