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ISSN: 2306-3483 (Online), 2071-8330 (Print)

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The Paris Agreement and the Trump administration: Road to nowhere?

Vol. 11, No 1, 2018


Ilja Richard Pavone


National Research Council of Italy (CNR),


University La Tuscia,

Viterbo, Italy



The Paris Agreement and the Trump administration: Road to nowhere?









Abstract. The unexpected election of the Republican Donald J. Trump for the US presidency generated serious concerns as to the future of the multilateral negotiations on climate change. Indeed, the President Trump is a climate skeptic who is challenging the linkage between human activity and global warming. With the long-awaited Statement of 1st June 2017 on the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, he claimed the prevalence of domestic economic interests over common concerns, like climate. In fact, President Trump’s declaration – although void of any sort of rational, coherent explanation – constitutes the proclamation of the primacy of State sovereignty when it comes to environmental issues. In this regard, the words of President Trump are eloquent: “the withdrawal from the Paris Agreement represents a reassertion of America’s sovereignty”. In the present paper, the free-riding strategy that the Trump administration took regarding international climate commitments will be reviewed, focusing on the consequences of Trump’s declaration, whose twofold content will be highlighted (it lies not only in the expression of the will to exit the Agreement, but also in the immediate ceasing of its implementation). Finally, the potential countermeasures to steer the US action (tit-for-tat strategy) or other incentives for and implications of the US withdrawal will be analyzed, as well as some reflections on the next steps for the US in the climate change regime, claiming that Trump’s pursuit of short-term benefits would come at the risk of longer-term damages.



Received: September, 2017

1st Revision: October, 2017

Accepted: December, 2017


DOI: 10.14254/2071-8330.2018/11-1/3


JEL ClassificationQ54

Keywordslimate regime, Paris Agreement, Trump Administration, Withdrawal, Breach