The announcement by the President of the United States in June 2017 that the US would withdraw from the Paris Climate Change Agreement has sparked a lot of interest in how a Party* can withdraw, should they decide to do so. Here we try to explain the basic process.
A Party to the Paris Agreement is free to withdraw and the Agreement sets out the following steps and timelines for this:
– Article 28 of the Agreement states that: 1) “At any time after three years from the date on which this Agreement has entered into force for a Party, that Party may withdraw from this Agreement by giving written notification to the Depositary”.
– It also states that: 2) “Any such withdrawal shall take effect upon expiry of one year from the date of receipt by the Depositary of the notification of withdrawal, or on such later date as may be specified in the notification of withdrawal.”
– The earliest date that a Party may withdraw by giving written notification is any time from 4 November 2019 – this is the case for those who were already in when the Paris Agreement entered into force on 4 November 2016.
Early entry into force seen as critical for boosting climate action
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has invited leaders from all countries to attend a special event on 21 September to deposit their instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession to the Paris Agreement on climate change. The event will also provide an opportunity to other countries to publicly commit to joining or ratifying the agreement before the end of 2016.
The agreement will enter into force 30 days after at least 55 countries, accounting for 55 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, deposit their instruments of ratification or acceptance with the Secretary-General.
It is expected that the September event will help efforts to secure early entry into force of the agreement.
In an extraordinary show of support for the Paris climate agreement, 175 countries signed the Paris Agreement at a ceremony in New York on 22 April, far exceeding the historical record for first-day signatures to an international agreement. Signing is the first step toward joining the Agreement, and must be followed by the deposit of the instrument of ratification or acceptance. So far, 19 countries have ratified the Agreement. Many others, including the United States and China, have publicly committed to joining the Paris Agreement this year.