China’s perspective on the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement

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THE ISSUE: On June 1, 2017, President Trump announced that the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord.  With many speculating that China will emerge as a new global climate leader in the wake of the U.S. withdrawal, Chinese leaders have reiterated the country’s commitment to the goals of the agreement but warn that the implications of Trump’s decision are global.

The U.S. decision to withdraw from the Paris agreement isn’t a “gift” to China, or anyone; it’s a problem for everyone.


  • The leadership of the United States is essential in global climate efforts, as the U.S. is among the top two emitters of greenhouse gases and a leader in the world economy and in technological innovation.
  • This is not an international political issue; it’s a global tragedy of the commons.
  • Therefore, the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris agreement is not a “gift” to China, India, Europe, or any other country; it’s a problem for everyone.
  • President Trump’s decision to withdraw is not the end of the road for global climate action. It’s important to look to the non-state actors, the subnational governments, local governments, citizens, NGOs, and enterprises at this time. These actors will play a significant role in climate change efforts following the U.S. decision to withdraw from the Paris accord.
  • We’ve already seen some of these actors stepping up to honor the Paris agreement. Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York, announced that he will contribute a significant amount of financing toward combating climate change, and Governor Jerry Brown has committed California to the goals of the Paris accord.
  • China sees the U.S. withdrawal from Paris as an unfortunate development. China has, however, reiterated its intention to continue efforts to honor the commitments made under the Paris agreement.
  • The United States pledged $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund under the Paris agreement. China pledged $3.1 billion under a different mechanism, the South-South Cooperation on Climate Change.
  • Despite the U.S. withdrawal from Paris, China will continue to honor the $3.1 billion pledged for climate action. In addition, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to add another billion dollars to the South-South Cooperation on Climate Change.
  • The United States can’t leave the agreement until 2020. During this time, all of the state and non-state actors involved can make a concerted effort toward achieving a better climate and improving economic growth.