Forty self-described free-market organizations called on President Donald Trump, in a letter released Monday, to keep his campaign promise and withdraw the U.S. from the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change.
Reports surfaced in April that Trump’s more politically moderate advisers were advocating the White House keep the nation committed to the Obama-era agreement struck within the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The White House has since tilted in favor of withdrawing from the accord, according to a report from The Washington Post.
“There is no political upside in breaking his promise. And he’s going to see those consequences revisited constantly.”
With these hopes in mind, the 40 signatories encouraged the president to keep his word and reject the deal, which critics argue places unfair demands on the United States.
“We, the undersigned, write in enthusiastic support of your campaign commitments to withdraw fully from the Paris Climate Treaty and to stop all taxpayer funding of U.N. global warming programs,” the letter writers declared. “We were heartened by the comments you made at your 100-day rally in Harrisburg and agree that the treaty is not in the interest of the American people, and the U.S. should therefore not be a party to it.”
On his 100th day in office on April 29, the president held a rally among his loyal supporters and once again decried how the U.S. government has “rushed to join international agreements where the United States pays the costs and bears the burdens while other countries get the benefit and pay nothing.”
“This includes deals like the one-sided Paris climate accord, where the United States pays billions of dollars, while China, Russia and India have contributed and will contribute nothing,” Trump said. “I’ll be making a big decision on the Paris accord over the next two weeks, and we will see what happens.”
When President Obama signed the agreement on behalf of the U.S., he claimed the accord didn’t constitute a treaty and thereby sidestepped the need for senate confirmation. The agreement demands countries reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in increasing percentages every five years.
Attorney Christopher C. Horner, a senior legal fellow for the Energy & Environment Legal Institute and a senior fellow with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, told LifeZette that if Trump withdraws the U.S. from the Paris agreement he will be sending a strong signal to other world leaders of the U.S.’ uncompromising values.
“It would restore and return us to our treaty process, which would send a very strong signal to our negotiating partners — the opposite signal of what the ‘remainers’ are claiming,” Horner said. “[Trump] would be sending a signal that you can’t work with an administration to circumvent our process as these parties did and have it stand up. You might as well go legit.”
Horner said the Founding Fathers took treaties seriously “in anticipation of one branch poaching on the powers of another,” Horner noted that they did not foresee “one branch having atrophied so badly that it couldn’t protect its turf” from the other branches.
“The least we can do is give the U.S. Senate a vote,” Horner insisted, adding, “Let’s make the Senate great again.”
The 40 letter signatories offered three possible solutions for the president’s consideration should he choose to withdraw.
The first solution would be to follow the proper procedure and “submit the Paris Climate Treaty to the Senate for its advice and consent with a recommendation that the treaty not be ratified,” the letter read.
The second advises the U.S. to withdraw from the underlying UNFCCC and cease all payments.
Noting that Obama “decided that he could call even an obvious treaty a non-treaty,” Horner said these first two options “would be saying that we have a process for this, and you didn’t follow it.”
“We were warned not to [seek the Senate’s approval] because our process would kill it,” Horner said. “So we’re living this fiction that, ‘Well, an obvious treaty is not a treaty.'”
The third — though less ideal — option would be for Trump to withdraw from the agreement “according to the four-year schedule specified in the treaty and continue the process of repealing the regulations that the previous administration submitted as part of its [Nationally Determined Contribution],” the letter suggested.
“Going through the Paris withdrawal process would be acknowledging — or at least accepting for these purposes — that the Paris Agreement was properly entered into at least enough to withdraw from,” Horner noted. “Going through the Paris process dignifies it.”
Horner warned that staying tethered to the agreement will only handicap Trump’s agenda and open up policy decisions to potential lawsuits when they conflict with the Paris agreement’s stipulations.
“There are legal risks from staying in. There is no legal exposure or remedy for withdrawing,” Horner said. “Paris doesn’t create legal obligations, but the agencies are going to cite it in all sorts of inventive litigations.”
Saying that Trump would encounter “a judicial buzzsaw” hacking through his ambitious energy and economic agenda should the U.S. remain within the agreement, Horner noted that Trump would not be able to carry out those policies “for some time” because many of them inherently conflict with the Paris agreement.
“If he stays in, and if they sort of do a fudge like they did with NAFTA, they’re going to see this pop up beginning very soon,” Horner said, adding that Trump won’t be sued “on Paris, but Paris will be a hook” for the plaintiffs to wield against him in their legal arguments.
“He’s going to face real impediments to implementing his energy/economic agenda,” Horner said, noting that Trump would be ceding control of U.S. energy production and its economic revitalization to “international bureaucracies.”
“There is no political upside in breaking his promise. And he’s going to see those consequences revisited constantly,” Horner said. “What in the world do you think you’ll gain from breaking this promise? That’s beyond me.”
And if Trump does renege on his promise initially before deciding to withdraw later on, he runs the risk of appearing inconsistent.
Trump “won’t be reversing Barack Obama. He’ll be reversing Donald Trump,” Horner warned. “It’s counterintuitive, but his path of least political resistance is actually to keep his promise, take the lump once now, get the credit soon for restoring and returning us to our treaty process, and showing you cannot cooperate with … another failing, radically progressive administration … on circumventing our system and expect it to hold.”
Should Trump opt to keep his promise and withdraw, he will receive the full support and gratitude of the letter’s 40 signatories.
“The undersigned organizations believe that withdrawing completely from Paris is a key part of your plan to protect U.S. energy producers and manufacturers from regulatory warfare not just for the next four years but also for decades to come,” the letter reaffirmed. “We will strongly support your decision to keep your campaign commitment to withdraw from the Paris Climate Treaty.”