Trump Doesn’t Sign Paris Accord

The president declines to sign the G-7 pledge on the climate change agreement while in Europe

President Donald Trump promised in a tweet on Saturday to make his “final decision” on the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change next week amid escalating pressure from both sides.

In his campaign for president, Trump railed against the Paris accord and other environmental policies that hurt U.S. manufacturing and energy production. But since reports began surfacing in April indicating that the president’s more moderate advisers were urging him to reconsider exiting the Paris accord, the fate of the United States’ involvement in the climate change agreement has hung in the balance.

“His views are evolving. He came here to learn, he came here to get smarter, and he came here to hear people’s views.”

“I will make my final decision on the Paris Accord next week!” the president tweeted as he began to wrap up his first overseas trip as president.

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Trump’s decision to abstain from pledging full U.S. support for the Paris Agreement alongside the other G-7 attendees caused a great deal of consternation. All of the other G-7 countries – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom — all reaffirmed their support for the climate change accord. German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters, however, that the leaders’ climate talks were “very unsatisfactory” in the wake of Trump’s decision to abstain.

Back in April, at his 100-day rally in Harrisburg, Pa., the president said the U.S. had “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.” Trump noted that this included “deals like the one-sided Paris climate accord” and pledged that he would be making “a big decision on the Paris accord.”

But the president appears to be caught in the middle of two sets of advisers: the more moderate set calling for him to walk back his campaign promise and maintain a seat at the table with the Paris Agreement, and the more populist-conservative set urging him to exit the agreement and prioritize the boosting of the American economy without the accord’s shackles.

Gary Cohn, Trump’s chief economic adviser, told reporters Friday that the president’s views on climate change have been “evolving” as he has discussed the issue and the accord with world leaders this week on the trip.

“His views are evolving. He came here to learn, he came here to get smarter, and he came here to hear people’s views,” Cohn said, although he noted that the basis for Trump’s decision “ultimately is going to be what’s best for the United States.”

Just two days ago, 22 Republican senators signed a letter urging the president to “make a clean break from the Paris Agreement.”

“We understand that some officials inside your administration want to remain in the Paris Agreement to keep a seat at the table so that the U.S. continues to have a voice in future discussions,” the letter reads. “Fortunately, a clean exit from the Paris Agreement will not take this away.”

“The Senate gave its consent to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1992; this treaty provides a permanent seat at the table for the United States to engage with other countries each year at the Conferences of Parties (COP),” the letter continued. “In fact, it was through an annual COP meeting in Paris that the Paris Agreement was signed.”

The letter’s signatories included Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.). The senators warned that Trump’s attempts to undo the Obama administration’s constricting environmental regulations will be hindered drastically should the U.S. remain in the Paris Agreement.

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“A key risk to fulfilling this objective is remaining in the Paris Agreement. Because of existing provisions within the Clean Air Act and others embedded in the Paris Agreement, remaining in it would subject the United States to significant litigation risk that could upend your administration’s ability to fulfill its goal of rescinding the Clean Power Plan. Accordingly, we strongly encourage you to make a clean break from the Paris Agreement,” the letter reads.

“It is clear that those advocating for greenhouse gas regulations will use the Paris Agreement as a legal defense against your actions to rescind the Clean Power Plan if you decide to remain in the Paris Agreement,” the letter’s signatories added. “This is why it is so important for you to make a clean exit from the agreement.”

The president received another letter this week, however, penned by 40 Democratic senators urging Trump to remain in the Paris Agreement.

“Withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement would be a historic misstep that would massively disadvantage both American businesses and diplomats and our environment,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Wednesday when the letter was released.

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) chimed in, adding, “This isn’t just a climate question, this isn’t just an economic question, this isn’t just an environmental question … This is a question of whether or not the U.S. will continue to be an indispensable nation.”

The senators’ letters arrived a few weeks after 40 self-described free-market organizations penned a letter calling on the president to fulfill his campaign promises and exit the accord.

“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 organizations’ letter read. “We will strongly support your decision to keep your campaign commitment to withdraw from the Paris Climate Treaty.”