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Expert: US Shooting Self in Foot By Quitting Paris Deal

Opinions about whether the US will return to the Paris Agreement remain divided.

By Han Bingbin Updated Jun.5

The US is likely to have its long-term strategic competitive power and its international influence weakened by its exit from the Paris Agreement, said Zou Ji, vice dean of the school of environmental studies at Renmin University of China, cited by opinion site Sike.com.  

No country will benefit from the US exit because global climate governance is not a zero-sum game, Zou noted. He said the Paris Agreement is the result of participants making compromises, which has already given full consideration to the responsibilities and interests of the US.   

Zou said despite the US exit, participants are expected to carry on with the agreement based on the existing consensus while “patiently waiting for the US to return." Many states in the US are still committed to implementing emissions standards, with a lot of companies having invested heavily to reduce emissions. 

The development of low-carbon technologies and the design of preferential policies targeting renewable energy have also made significant progress in the US. All these practices mean Trump’s decision will not have an actual impact on the US low-carbon technologies, Zou said.  

As global climate governance becomes an irreversible trend, Zou said, it’s very likely that the US will rejoin the Paris Agreement in the future.  

Tsinghua University professor of public administration Qi Ye, however, believes the chance for the US to come back is very small, he told Sike.com.  Qi said Trump’s decision to quit the Paris Agreement is a mere reflection of his mindset as a businessman. 

While he says he will renegotiate to reach an agreement that’s supposedly fairer to the US, Qi said, Trump sees the agreement as a deal. But climate governance is a process of making compromises and reaching consensus, he noted, which can never be a trade.  

Qi believes the US exit will very likely lead other participants to create a new governance scheme or improve the existing one. In all, he said, the world can't leave out such a significant source of carbon emissions as the US while dealing with climate change.