Speaking at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany, former Vice-President Al Gore issued a friendly reminder: All the U.S. needs to re-enter the Paris Agreement is a new president.
"If there is a new President - excuse me a moment," said Gore, interrupting himself to raise his hands in prayer, "then a new president could simply give thirty days notice and the United States is back in the agreement."
In June, President Trump fulfilled his campaign promise and withdrew the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, which is an international pledge to limit greenhouse gas emissions. But leaving the commitment is easier said than done. According to the agreement, signatories cannot withdraw from the commitment until November 4, 2019, and even then, the decision will not be made final until the following year.
"It probably goes without saying, but you are all aware that under U.S. law and international law the first date upon which the United States could actually leave the Paris Agreement happens to be the first day after the next presidential election in 2020. So, that's good news," Gore said during his opening remarks for the climate finance panel at the U.S. Climate Action Center.
Climate change has always been an important issue for Gore. The Academy Award-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth and its sequel are both about Gore's tireless campaign to educate the public about global warming. Gore is also the founder and current chair of the Climate Reality Project, which is a non-profit organization involved in education and advocacy related to climate change. His environmental advocacy has been so effective that in 2007 the former Vice-President was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
For years, Gore has stood firmly by the Paris Agreement. And this summer, when President Trump announced his decision to withdraw, Gore was one of the loudest critics. In his most recent speech, Gore assured the rest of the world that the U.S. remains committed to the accord, despite what the White House says.
"The United States of America is still in the Paris Agreement, and we are going to meet and exceed our commitments," he said to applause. He added that U.S. states, cities and businesses have all continued to do their part in addressing the threat of climate change.
His remarks do not represent wishful thinking, either. On Saturday, a group of 20 U.S. states and more than 50 major cities pledged their commitment to the agreement, in spite of the federal government's decision.
"The overall message here, in this venue, is that the United States of America is still in the Paris Agreement and we are going to meet and exceed our commitments," Gore said.
"If you'll forgive the metaphor, the train has left the station in Paris."