Following the inauguration of President Donald Trump the Whitehouse website was changed immediately to confirm the new government’s intention to scale back or undo previous efforts to address climate change. It now states that “for too long [the US has] been held back by burdensome regulations on our energy industry. President Trump is committed to eliminating harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule.”
Whether the new policy will also result in a departure from commitments made at the international level is not yet clear. There has, however, been persistent speculation about a possible withdrawal of the US from the Paris Agreement (after at least three years from 4 November 2016 to take effect after another year) or even the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as a whole (within one year).
Legal advice produced by LRI experts indicates that “although the Constitution requires the advice and consent of the Senate before the United States can become a party to a treaty, the president may unilaterally decide on behalf of the country to terminate a treaty that no longer serves the national interest”.
On the justiciability of the Nationally Determined Contribution submitted by the US another legal opinion states that: “Since the Paris Agreement was not adopted by the US as a self-executing agreement and since the US has only complied with the Paris Agreement using existing legislation, the provisions of the agreement, including the NDC obligations, will likely not be enforceable in a US court.”
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