The European Union's decision to join the Paris climate deal earlier than expected could prevent potential president Donald Trump from stopping the deal, according to The Hill.
The EU's decision to join the deal pushes the deal over the threshold required for it to be ratified. The deal formally takes effect in 30 days, so Trump could not cancel or renegotiate it if he takes office, but the agreement is nonbinding, so the billionaire developer would be free to ignore it, The Hill reports.
Officials did not expect a quick turnaround on the climate deal, which was negotiated in December 2015 in Paris. The Kyoto Protocol, a similar agreement, took five years to ratify.
The Republican candidate's talk about canceling the deal may have helped speed up the deal being ratified. "His threat stimulated this rapid series of ratifications — China, the USA, Europe, and many others," Robert Stavins, director of the Harvard Project on Climate Agreements, told The Hill.
The Sierra Club's global climate policy director, John Coequyt, said foreign leaders moved fast to avoid future debate over whether action on climate issues was needed.
"They want to be on the right side of the issue, and I believe that Trump showed the world that that isn't a foregone conclusion," Coequyt said, reports The Hill, noting a study that showed Trump would be the only head of state in the world who doubted the science behind climate change.
"I think having that idea out there, that the world still is debating this in some way, I think puts pressure on countries to act quickly, to solidify the process and continue to move forward," Coequyt said.
Trump has been against the Paris deal since before the United Nations met to discuss it in December. In May, Trump said, "We're going to cancel the Paris climate agreement," according to Reuters.
President Barack Obama's international climate adviser, Brian Deese, said he had to reassure other countries that the U.S. would meet its commitments under the deal despite political changes.
"The history of these agreements is: Once they're in place and once the United States has not only supported and signed the agreement, but has formally joined the agreement, that we stay in the agreement that we commit to," Deese said.
In the deal, President Obama committed the U.S. to reduce its emissions by 26 to 28 percent by 2025. Once the deal takes effect, the United States cannot back out of the plan or force changes to it for at least four years.
Trump could ignore Obama's goals. Competitive Enterprise Institute senior fellow William Yeatman told The Hill that Trump would insist that the Senate ratify the deal, and they would be likely to vote it down.
The Harvard Project's Stavins said that environmental standards would stay in force. Trump "could slow down action on climate change, but not so dramatically as he may think he could," Stavins said.
If Trump is elected, he would have the ability to move against the climate change deal by nominating a ninth justice to the Supreme Court, which is set to decide the fate of Obama's climate change regulation in its next term. The U.S. would face difficulty meeting its Paris deal agreements if the court strikes that down.
The president would have the upper hand, according to Yeatman. "If you control the presidency, then you can exert a huge amount of power. You can basically not implement your commitments, and you're not going to suffer anything on the world stage," Yeatman said.
According to Business Insider, Trump and his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, differ on the environment. The real estate mogul does not include the environment as a major topic on his website, but Clinton does.
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