As Election Looms, the Trump Administration's Formal Withdrawal of the U.S. From the Global Paris Agreement Goes Into Effect

Nov 4, 2020 11:10 AM ET
Campaign: We Are Still In

The US becomes the only country to leave the global pact, weakening the nation’s standing on climate change

Despite today’s action, 4000+ leaders pledge to continue the public and private sector work to achieve the pact’s most ambitious goals

As ballots continue to be counted, the Trump administration’s intent to formally withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement goes into effect, a move in sharp contrast with the majority of Americans and the rest of the world. The U.S. is the only country in the world to have formally left the historic global pact that calls on nations to tackle the climate crisis.  

“Withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris Agreement is an ill-advised action that puts our lives, and the country, economy and planet at risk,” said Ceres CEO and President Mindy Lubber. “This reckless step only heightens the implications of the U.S. election. The President-elect will ultimately determine if the U.S. rejoins the Paris Agreement or remains out of step with the vast majority of the world, and indeed, the majority of Americans. But no matter what happens, thousands of investors, companies, cities, states and other non-state actors remain committed to achieving the accord’s ambitious goal of limiting global temperature rise to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.”

Since the Trump administration announced its intent to withdraw in 2017, the We Are Still In coalition, which Ceres co-found, has grown in size and strength to nearly 4,000 U.S. leaders who have not only declared that they are ‘still in’ the Paris Agreement, but have committed to ambitious climate action.

Lubber added, “The climate crisis is the greatest human, environmental, economic and financial threat of our time. In this moment of tremendous uncertainty, we must not lose sight of our shared goals as we continue to drive forward ambitious, economy-wide climate action. Ceres will continue to stand with investors and companies from across the country that have already declared, “We Are Still In” and who are ready to declare, “We Are Back In” the Paris Agreement." 

Investor groups around the globe that are founding partners to The Investor Agenda issued an urgent plea to rejoin the U.S. into the landmark accord, following the nation’s formal withdrawal today. The founding partners, which include Ceres, lead organizations that represent networks of hundreds of institutional investors in regions around the world. They strongly support the Paris Agreement because it provides "an ambitious framework with clear obligations for all signatories to address the systemic risks of the climate crisis facing our economies and societies."

“Even in 2020, in the midst of Covid-19 and an economic recession, we’ve seen the largest U.S. investors and companies—as well as state policymakers from coast to coast—commit to action in line with the Paris Agreement and the net-zero emissions economy already underway, and we expect many more to follow," Lubber added. "We’ve also seen further evidence of the devastating and deadly impacts of our rapidly warming planet. From the wildfires in the West to the hurricanes in the South, these disasters have made it clear that we must immediately mitigate the climate crisis and support the frontline communities that stand in harm’s way. There is no more time to wait. Policymakers on both sides of the aisle and at all levels of government must come together and act.” 

Just consider the last couple of years. North Carolina issued a clean energy plan aimed at achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, Nevada increased its renewable portfolio standard to 50% by 2030, aiming for 100% carbon-free by 2050, Colorado became the first state in the interior to adopt clean car standards for low- and zero-emission vehicles, and New Jersey adopted a groundbreaking environmental justice law requiring the state consider the cumulative impacts on overburdened communities when issuing permits for greenhouse gas emitting projects. And in July, 15 U.S. governors pledged to work together to deploy more zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty vehicles in their states—the largest multi-state collaboration on clean transportation in the nation. 

The federal government must now step up to the plate. And given the scale of the challenge we face, U.S. financial regulators must do their part to drive large-scale behavior and systems change. Every regulatory agency must address climate risk as the systemic financial risk that it is, and establish mandatory, consistent, industry-wide climate risk disclosure. This will send a clear market signal across every sector, while providing investors and companies with the information they need to understand and address their exposure to climate risk. 

“Climate change is not partisan, nor is it political. It threatens every business of every size and every population in every state,” Lubber said. “Regardless of the election results, we will continue to strengthen the economic case for bold climate and environmental justice policies at all levels of government, and to push for a just and inclusive recovery.” 

Ceres is a sustainability nonprofit organization working with the most influential investors and companies to build leadership and drive solutions throughout the economy. Through powerful networks and advocacy, Ceres tackles the world’s biggest sustainability challenges, including the climate crisis, water scarcity and pollution, and inequitable workplaces. For more information, visit and follow @CeresNews.