Will Trump keep promise to scrap Paris climate deal?
President Trump's closest aides are meeting in the White House today to discuss whether or not the administration should withdraw from the Paris climate accords.
The agreement, which is not a treaty and carries no penalties for non-compliance, calls on the U.S. to reduce its carbon emissions by 26% by 2025 – just eight years from now. Obviously, in order to accomplish that goal, American society would have to undergo a radical transformation – especially in the energy sector.
"You know, what was wrong with Paris was not just that it was, you know, failed to be treated as a treaty, but China and India, the largest producers of CO2 internationally, got away scot-free. They didn't have to take steps until 2030. So we've penalized ourselves through lost jobs while China and India didn't take steps to address the issue internationally," he said in an interview with ABC News late last month. "So Paris was just a bad deal, in my estimation."
Other administration officials, including top adviser Jared Kushner, reportedly favor staying in the agreement.
The deal, which is not a formal treaty and carries no non-compliance penalties whatsoever, calls on the U.S. to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 26 percent by 2025 – a massive reduction that would require dramatic changes in domestic American energy policy.
China, on the other hand, has to do nothing until 2030, when it says it will reach peak emissions and then begin reductions. There are signs, however, that China already is beginning to curb its emissions.
While Mr. Trump apparently is still open to remaining in the agreement, his administration is taking steps that will make it virtually impossible to meet the emissions targets. For example, he's instructed the EPA to undo the Clean Power Plan, a set of national limits on carbon pollution from power plants that's central to meeting the broader emissions targets.
More broadly, Mr. Trump has made clear he wants to ramp up U.S. oil, gas, and coal production, and end the Obama administration's favoritism toward renewable energy. Those policy priorities make the Paris pledge little more than words on a page, even if the nation formally remains a part of the deal.
For environmentalists, the fact that the climate deal is even up for review sends the wrong signal to the rest of the world.
"The United States is the world's largest historic climate polluter. Our country has a moral imperative to take action proportionate to our responsibility for this crisis. Our commitments under the Paris Agreement were already woefully inadequate given our responsibility and the severity of the problem," said Ben Schreiber, senior political director at Friends of the Earth. "By holding this meeting, Trump has communicated to the rest of the world that the U.S. is a climate pariah."
Don't you just love greens? They obfuscate the truth by referring to the U.S. as the "world's largest historic climate polluter," neglecting to mention that both China and India emit far more CO2 than the U.S. today. It's how supporters of the Paris deal get around the uncomfortable fact that China and India get a free ride.
There is no country on Earth that has reduced its carbon emissions more in the last decade than the U.S. We have done that outside any international agreements or accords. The reduction is mostly the result of market forces; coal was becoming far more expensive than natural gas, which emits far less CO2 when burned.
But the question of whether we should deliberately limit economic growth to meet some arbitrary (and unfair) emissions target has to be answered by the president's top advisers. With scant evidence that cutting carbon emissions will save the planet, it seems an awfully big price to pay to find out if a theory is right or wrong.