Wednesday morning brought long-awaited news about the Paris Climate Agreement. Axios reported President Donald Trump's close confidants had been told he was planning to pull the United States out of the accord.

However, such a decision will not be made official until Trump announces it and takes the appropriate steps to remove the United States from the agreement. Leaving it would be a four-year process unless Trump decides to leave the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change completely, according to Article 28 of the agreement. Withdrawing from the UNFCCC would be a quick way out of the agreement and future talks on climate change.

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The Paris Climate Agreement was adopted on Dec. 12, 2015, after it was drafted at the UNFCCC. While it was adopted in 2015, it did not take effect until Nov. 4, 2016. “This Agreement shall enter into force on the 30th day after the date on which at least 55 parties to the convention accounting in total for at least an estimated 55 percent of the total global greenhouse gas emissions have deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession,” the treaty reads.  

Why does the Paris Climate Agreement do?

The agreement was groundbreaking because it was the first and only treaty ever to unite the countries and leaders of the world against climate change. It was the first time that countries agreed to do what they could to keep global climate change under 2 degrees Celsius during this century, that’s about 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. The goal is to do this by curbing emissions, a process that would involve burning fewer fossil fuels and switching to renewable energy sources. The agreement allows countries to achieve the emissions goal in whatever manner the country sees fit mainly because every country differs and lives under varying circumstances. However, the agreement does require each country to have a plan and holds the country to implementing and improving on that plan, according to the U.N.’s website.

What’s the difference between COP21, the Paris Accord and the Paris Climate Agreement?

COP21 is the name for the convention during which the climate agreement was created. COP stands for “Conference of Parties,” and the 2015 conference was the 21st year of the conference. The Paris Climate Accord and Climate Agreement are usually used to refer to the actual decisions made and the treaty that was written up at the conference.

Who has signed the agreement?

A total of 195 countries signed the agreement when it was first drafted at COP21. Every country in attendance at the UNFCCC signed with the exception of Syria and Nicaragua. The agreement was then open for signing for a year beginning on April 22, 2016, and in that year 147 parties ratified the agreement and made the commitment to curb greenhouse gas emissions. The World Resources Institute has a map that shows when each country signed and ratified the agreement — if they did.

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What are the legal consequences for not curbing emissions or violating the treaty?

“Countries have every reason to comply with the terms of the agreement. It is in their interest to implement the agreement, not only in terms of achieving the benefits of taking climate action, but also to show global solidarity,” the U.N.’s website says. Furthermore it states there "is no benefit to flouting the agreement. Any short-term time gain will be short-lived. It will undoubtedly be overshadowed by negative reactions, by other countries, financial markets, and most important, by their citizens.” Essentially this means that there are no legal or financial consequences for falling short of the emissions goals, but it’s in the best interests of countries to work to meet the goals.

When is COP23?

COP23 will take place in Bonn, Germany, from Nov. 6-17.