President Donald Trump has made good on his campaign promise to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, undoing a crowning achievement of the Obama administration.
Trump promised to “cancel” the Paris Agreement on the campaign trail, but his own White House was split on the issue. The president already issued executive orders to roll back Obama-era global warming regulations.
The White House said that the Paris Agreement was poorly negotiated by the Obama administration and did not put American workers first. White House aides said the administration would withdraw from the Paris accord using the process laid out in the agreement.
Under this process, the U.S. wouldn’t fully withdraw until November 2019 — more than two years from now.
“President Trump has done the right thing by withdrawing from the Paris Agreement,” Tom Pyle, president of the American Energy Alliance (AEA) who headed Trump’s Energy Department transition team, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Trump’s announcement came after European leaders pleaded with him to stay in the Paris Agreement at the G7 conference in late May. However Trump could not be swayed, as reports surfaced in the wake of the G7 meeting the president had decided to withdraw from the Paris accord.
“He should be commended for recognizing it was a bad deal for American workers and would have caused continued harm to those around the world who suffer from energy poverty,” Pyle said. “Despite an intense lobbying effort from corporations, green lobbyists, U.N. bureaucrats, and the Al Gore’s of the world, Trump stood firm on his commitment to resetting our energy and environmental policies.”
Most Republicans and conservative groups opposed staying in the Paris Agreement, saying it posed a legal risk to Trump’s deregulatory efforts and sent mixed signals to the rest of the world. They also argued that staying in the agreement without Senate approval set a bad constitutional precedent.
President Barack Obama joined the Paris Agreement in 2016 without Senate approval, pledging to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.
White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, general counsel Don McGahn and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt were the leading voices in the administration calling for a Paris withdrawal.
“Thanks to President Trump, we will never have Paris,” AEA’s Pyle said.
Advisers Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and Gary Cohn favored staying in the Paris Agreement. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Energy Secretary Rick Perry also favored staying in the agreement.
The pro-Paris crowd argued that Trump should stay in the agreement for diplomatic reasons. They also said since the Paris Agreement was not legally binding, it would have no effect on Trump’s domestic agenda — a point contested by Paris opponents.
Trump reportedly told several confidantes that he would be withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, sources told Axios Monday. The report came after Europeans spent days urging Trump to stay in the deal.
Democratic lawmakers also urged Trump to stay in the deal in May, bolstering calls from corporate America and even some major energy companies to stay in the agreement.
Environmentalists were furious with Trump’s decision, but it’s likely they would have also been unhappy at Trump staying in the deal with a weaker commitment to fight global warming.
“There should be no question: the U.S. must fulfill its international commitments in full,” Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, said in a statement.
“Exploiting the flexibility of the Paris Agreement to reduce our commitment, or even pulling us out, would be a disaster for the United States, provoking international blowback, harming our global leadership role, and threatening the health and safety of all families in this country,” Brune said.
Conservative groups, including AEA, made a final plea to Trump in late May to keep his campaign promise to withdraw from the Paris accords. Republican lawmakers and attorneys general added their voices to calls to ditch the Paris Agreement, arguing that a failure to withdraw would imperil Trump’s agenda.
The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) has been one of the most vocal opponents of the deal, launching an ad campaign and petition to hold Trump to his campaign promise.
CEI senior fellows Chris Horner and Marlo Lewis published a paper early May calling on Trump to submit the Paris Agreement to the Senate for approval as required by the U.S. Constitution.
“The Agreement endangers America’s capacity for self-government,” their paper reads. “It empowers one administration to make legislative commitments for decades to come, without congressional authorization, and regardless of the outcome of future elections.”
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