World risks four-year legal grey zone if Trump quits climate pact | Reuters

By Alister Doyle Environment Correspondent
| OSLO

OSLO The United States could influence or even disrupt work by other nations to combat climate change until late 2020 even if President Donald Trump quits a global agreement, legal scholars said on Wednesday.

Trump will honor a campaign pledge to pull out of the 195-nation Paris Agreement, a source briefed on the decision told Reuters on Tuesday. Trump tweeted he would announce his formal decision “over the next few days”.

U.N. rules for the 2015 pact, which seeks to shift the world economy from fossil fuels this century, say Washington would formally have to wait until November 2020 to withdraw. Trump could shorten the formalities to just one year by exiting Paris’ 1992 parent treaty.

Quitting the Paris Agreement would leave Trump in a legal grey zone until the next U.S. presidential election in 2020, retaining a vote as other nations work on detailed rules on issues such as how to monitor greenhouse gas emissions.

In the worst case “the U.S. could make it more difficult to adopt the Paris rules”, said Daniel Bodansky, a law professor at Arizona State University.

“To the extent that (withdrawal from Paris) is already going to harm relations with our allies, staying in and being obstructionist would be even more harmful,” he said. Trump has promised to promote the coal industry over renewables.

Bodansky noted, however, that Washington did not try to obstruct other nations’ work on the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which obliged rich nations to cut emissions, after President George W. Bush angered U.S. allies by deciding in 2001 not to take part.

Megan Bowman, a law lecturer at King’s College, London, said the four-year waiting period was partly intended to insulate the agreement from a shift to a Republican presidency after Democratic President Barack Obama.

“The downside … is that if they (the United States) are recalcitrant they are sitting at the table, able to…

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