For the first three years, nations that signed onto the Paris climate agreement couldn't abandon it. That three-year period ends Monday, and President Trump has made his feelings about the deal clear; the State Department confirmed Friday that the US is leaving. The withdrawal process takes a full year, the AP reports, but changes could surface in the interim. And if another candidate wins the election—exactly one year from now—he or she can reverse the process. Still, experts said losing the world's largest economy is bound to hurt efforts to combat climate change. "Global objectives can't be met unless everybody does their part," one scientist said. "What happens to the game if we take our ball and go home?" Another country will have to step into the leadership void, and another expert said it probably will be China, the world's largest polluter.
An analysis in the Washington Post doesn't predict a major impact, saying that the deal was built to handle a lack of cooperation among nations. The issue is whether nations are cutting carbon emissions, agreement or not, and they are. In this country, states and local governments, as well as businesses, have set their own goals. Many have renewed their support of the Paris agreement. One effect could be changes in alignments. Large companies and business groups—such as the US Chamber of Commerce—are behind the climate deal and are likely to reiterate that, Axios points out, separating them from Trump. There's another reason the impact of quitting the deal could prove more symbolic than consequential: EPA projections showed the US wasn't on course for keeping its pledges anyway. (Read more climate change stories.)