After the election of President Trump and a two-house Republican majority, many fear for the future of US climate policy. The new administration has indicated that they will abolish Obama’s climate legacy through executive orders.
However, a sober analysis of the political, legal, and financial impacts suggests otherwise.
The modified matrix of risks posed by a recalcitrant U.S. administration summarized in Table 1, and explored in detail below, highlights the paradox of U.S. participation: a rogue U.S. can cause more damage inside rather than outside of the agreement.
There are fears that a US exit could trigger others to free-ride or withdraw. One analysis found that if the world were to follow a laggard U.S. in delaying action by 8 years, cumulative future emissions over the next century would be doubled, and the 2°C target would be out of reach6. Such concerns are reasonable but speculative.
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