Resource / 14 Jun, 2017
On the Possibility to Withdraw from the Paris Agreement: A Short Overview

The announcement by the President of the United States in June 2017 that his administration has decided to withdraw from the Paris Climate Change Agreement has sparked a lot of interest in how a Party* can withdraw.  Here we explain the basic process.

The Agreement sets out the following steps and timelines for this:

Article 28 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 Paris Agreement entered into force on the 4 November 2016. This means that, for Parties that had joined by then, the earliest date that any of them may leave the Agreement is 4 November 2020.

The notification of a withdrawal needs to be submitted to the Office of Legal Affairs of the United Nations, based at United Nations Headquarters in New York.

Once the withdrawal notification has been received, it only becomes effective after one year (or later if the Party so says in the notification). Until the withdrawal becomes effective, the Party remains in the Paris Agreement and continues to fully participate in all activities under it.   

A withdrawal may also be revoked before it becomes effective. And, of course, if a Party withdraws they are welcome to re-join: the door is always open.

We hope this helps shed light on a process of current public interest and we will endeavor to update the relevant information subject to developments.

*In the UNFCCC, it is countries and the European Union that are Parties to the Paris Agreement.