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The Paris Agreement Presents a Flexible Approach for US Climate Policy

Fatima Maria Ahmad, Jennifer Huang, Bob Perciasepe


The Paris Agreement was specifically designed to provide sovereign nations with the flexibility they need to craft their own greenhouse gas reduction plans. The cyclical and transparent review of progress toward those goals is established to allow and encourage increasing ambition over time - a global race to the top.
The withdrawal announced by the Trump Administration in June of 2017 has begun to motivate sub-national and non-state actors in the US to strengthen their own commitments. This combined effort, which is building off the tremendous technology advances underway, has the potential to keep the US in a global leadership position in the near-term. States and cities are continuing to craft legal frameworks to enable these transitions and the cost of clean power has evolved to make most public service commissions in the US comfortable with de-carbonisation plans.
To achieve a very low carbon economy, federal policy to further unleash market forces will be needed in the longer-term. In light of the flexibility of the Paris Agreement regarding domestic policy, the likely continuation of technological advancement in key areas, and the momentum demonstrated by sub-national and non-state actors, the Administration is presented with an opportunity to take a new approach and claim a ‘better deal’ on the Paris Agreement. Looking at this groundswell of non-state and sub-national action and the opportunity for market-based approaches that have bipartisan support, there is no reason the Administration could not reformulate the US NDC in a way that contributes to resolving the climate problem.

Fatima Maria Ahmad, JD, Solutions Fellow, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. Jennifer Huang, JD, LLM, International Fellow, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. Bob Perciasepe, President, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. For correspondence: <>


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