Government & Politics

Will President Trump Always Have Paris?

There is a lot of internal debate about whether to keep his campaign promise to leave the Paris climate deal.

Michael Swartz · May 15, 2017

A key test of President Donald Trump’s commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement — a linchpin of his predecessor’s foreign and environmental policy blueprint — will come as the United States prepares for the G-7 summit later this month in Italy. Within his administration a debate is raging over whether to withdraw from the accord, signed just last year with great fanfare by Barack Obama. (Note, however, that full, formal withdrawal isn’t possible until the year 2020.)

On one side of the debate — let’s call them the side of common sense — are EPA head Scott Pruitt, Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon, and a host of conservative organizations and pro-business groups. They argue, first and foremost, that the United States is taking an unfair share of the burden to address a problem that is of a dubious nature to begin with since no one can actually determine just what the Earth’s “normal” climate is. On a political level, the fact that Obama deemed this agreement to not be a treaty angered conservatives that believe the agreement is, indeed, a treaty and should be ratified by the Senate. (The same was true of the Kyoto Protocol climate agreement, which was signed by Bill Clinton but never went before the Senate.)

Overall, this side presents a compelling argument that maintaining our place in the Paris agreement would damage our economy for little gain insofar as climate goes, with temperature effects measured in fractions of a degree Celsius. That’s hardly going to stop the melting of the ice cap or the sea level’s rise — not that they have proven those effects will necessarily occur. Opponents also remind the president that he promised throughout his campaign to withdraw from the Paris agreement.

But there’s a second side to the equation, and it has several heavyweights of its own: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, longtime global warming gadfly Al Gore, and the family ties of son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka Trump are among those urging Trump to reconsider his opposition. Of course Obama defended the pact, although in a more peripheral way during a speech he gave in Milan to the Global Food Innovation Summit (for a reported $3 million).

Moreover, several of those entities bring even further reinforcements to the battle. For example, Tillerson has not only the backing of the State Department careerists who helped broker the deal under the Obama regime, but also support from several multinational corporations like Tillerson’s former employer Exxon Mobil and from Starbucks — large companies that can better adjust to the economic turmoil such a treaty would create. These businesses also believe America may be seen as a “pariah” or left “on the sidelines” of the global market. Add in the fact that Tillerson just signed the Fairbanks Declaration, a deal with the members of the Arctic Council which called climate change a “serious threat” to the Arctic, and it appears the State Department continues to believe the global warming hype. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss?

But not only is Tillerson succumbing to the pressure from Radical Green, they are doing a full-court press on Ivanka Trump. Echoing the theme of America as “global pariah,” the Natural Resources Defense Council sent an email message to supporters urging them to call Ivanka Trump’s White House office and to implore her to be the “moderating influence” on her father that keeps the United States in the Paris deal. “We need your help to flood the White House phone lines, generating a massive outcry that will be difficult for the White House to ignore,” wrote NRDC president Rhea Suh, “It will only take a few minutes, but if enough people call, our impact could last for generations.”

And Suh is precisely right. If America is shackled to the Paris Climate Agreement, forcing us to meet unrealistic energy goals — while the world’s biggest polluters of China and India continue apace — the impact of lost jobs and opportunities very well could set our kids and grandkids back economically. If nations feel it’s that important to address climate change, let them do so on their own. We would rather improve the world’s economy so we all can more easily adapt to whatever Mother Nature throws at us.

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