President Donald Trump has reportedly told close confidantes he will withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, and some in the media are already speculating that a U.S. pull out of the accord may ultimately be a good thing for the planet.
“Will the Paris Agreement Be Stronger Without the United States?” The Atlantic’s Robinson Meyer asks, adding that “Trump could water down the treaty, making it harder for other countries to tackle climate change.”
“If he stays in the treaty, he will do so only begrudgingly,” Meyer wrote in a piece published Tuesday — three days after Axios reported that Trump privately told people he would withdraw from the Paris accord.
Some Republicans and White House advisers want Trump to stay in the Paris agreement, but with a weakened pledge to cut U.S. emissions — even though it’s not clear if that’s possible under the terms of the accord.
Former Obama administration officials have subtly pushed this idea in order to preserve the Paris agreement, which former President Barack Obama joined in 2016. But some on the left are starting to argue Paris could unravel if Trump stays in it.
“If America misses its global target—and nothing happens—will the momentum that sustains Paris halter and fall apart?” Meyer wrote. “If the U.S. stays in, Rex Tillerson’s State Department will retain a veto power in these talks. Will it weaken the treaty?”
Politico’s Anthony Adragna noted that “[e]ven if Trump decides to stay a part of the Paris agreement, he has made it abundantly clear that cutting greenhouse gas emissions will not be a priority for the federal government.”
The New York Times’s Brad Plumer wrote that “[s]ome observers worry that the Trump administration, by remaining in the deal, could undermine it from within, refusing to take any significant steps on climate change and bogging down the global push for more ambitious action.”
Plumer also notes that Trump’s plan to roll back Obama-era global warming regulations and cut funding for agencies carrying out climate programs “could sap any momentum for stronger global climate action.”
Trump also proposed cutting all funding for United Nations global warming programs in his 2018 budget plan. Congressional Republicans tried to block Obama from funding the Green Climate Fund, but the former president was able to redirect $1 billion towards it in 2016.
Trump promised to “cancel” the Paris agreement on the campaign trail, but has spent months considering whether or not he would fulfill that pledge. His own White House is split on the issue.
Both Meyer and Plumer quote Australian professor Luke Kemp, who argues Trump should leave the Paris accord. “Money and emissions are all that matter,” Kemp wrote in a piece for The Conversation published in late May.
“Wanting the US to remain is a short-sighted, knee-jerk reaction,” Kemp wrote. “The international community should be much more worried about the real domestic actions of the US, rather than whether it is symbolically cooperating internationally.”
That argument hasn’t resonated much on the left. Forty Democratic lawmakers recently sent a letter to Trump, urging him to stick with the Paris agreement. Environmental groups have also asked Trump to remain in the Paris accord.
Trump said he’d make a decision on the Paris agreement sometime this week.
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