Trump Sparks Worry of Paris Agreement Reversal
Despite campaign pledge, president weighs keeping Obama's legacy climate change deal
President Donald Trump, having already backtracked on several campaign pledges considered important to his populist-conservative base, sparked worry Tuesday he may decline to withdraw from an Obama-era climate change agreement.
On the campaign trail the president promised to pull-out of the Paris Accord of 2015, the international climate agreement former President Barack Obama touted as a signature legacy item.
“As Scott Pruitt said, the accord is a bad deal for the U.S. that will cost trillions each year to avert warming by 0.1 degrees by 2100.”
The New York Times reported on Tuesday that staying in the agreement “would break one of [Trump’s] signature campaign promises.”
“Staying in the legally non-binding accord would be an abject betrayal to his supporters,” said Thomas Richard of Climate Change Dispatch, in an email to LifeZette.
Richard noted that the accord is the kind of abusive agreement Trump used to bash as a “bad deal.”
“China and India do not have to reduce emissions until 2030, and only if they decide it’s in their best interests,” said Richard. “They also aren’t required to add money to the U.N.’s green climate fund. As Scott Pruitt said, the accord is a bad deal for the U.S. that will cost trillions each year to avert warming by 0.1 degrees by 2100.”
As recently as last week Trump’s EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, was advocating a U.S. exit from the bargain.
“Paris is something that we need to really look at closely,” Pruitt told Fox News. “It’s something we need to exit, in my opinion.”
Conservative groups who oppose the accord include the Heritage Foundation, which helped Trump organize his transition, and Americans for Prosperity, the nation’s largest grassroots conservative organization.
But Trump is under pressure from moderate advisers to reconsider ahead of a late-May meeting of the G7. Trump would be expected to take grief from France and Canada were he to pull out of the Paris Accord.
The moderates in the White House have reportedly warned Trump pulling out of the agreement could damage the credibility of the United States — ostensibly with left-leaning European and Canadian politicians.
Yet Trump didn't care too much about what world leaders would think of him during the campaign. He took relish in promising to "cancel" the agreement. The promise to exit was a key component of Trump's pitch to coal miners in West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and other crucial states that delivered him victory.
It's unclear which advisers are urging Trump to stay in the Paris Accord. But Rex Tillerson, secretary of state, has favored "keeping a seat at the table" in the climate pact, according to The New York Times.
Tillerson, the former CEO of ExxonMobil, has been joined by a surprising number of businessmen involved in extracting oil and coal. Royal Dutch Shell and BP have also endorsed the accord.
But that is likely because of the accord's weakness. The accord has no real teeth. What it has are guidelines to begin lowering carbon emissions, starting in 2020.
Staying in the accord is seen as a way to influence the agreement's direction in the future. That and the accord's weaknesses are the likely reasons that some businesses have adopted supporting the accord, as a codpiece to be worn for public-relations purposes.
Trump's advisers may also be thinking the Trump White House needs the eco-friendly fig leaf, given its embrace of coal and such massive oil projects as the expansion of the Keystone XL pipeline, which the Obama administration stalled for years. Trump started the pipeline up again, and it will soon begin delivering 700,000 barrels of Canadian oil to Southeast refineries every day.
But Trump has recently pushed back on criticisms of his flip-flop on another major campaign promise: his threat to label China a "currency manipulator." Breaking another campaign promise soon after might be a step too far for Trump.
Advisers were set to meet on the issue on Tuesday but cancelled the meeting because of Trump's speech in Wisconsin.