European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker mocked President Donald Trump’s understanding of certain legal aspects of the Paris agreement on climate change.
Trump is expected to withdraw from the Paris accord sometime this week, but Juncker said “that’s not how it works.”
“The Americans can’t just leave the Climate Protection Agreement,” Juncker said at an event in Berlin, Germany Wednesday. “Mr. Trump believes that because he doesn’t get close enough to the dossiers to fully understand them.”
“It would take three to four years after the agreement came into force in November 2016 to leave the agreement,” Juncker said. “So this notion, ‘I am Trump, I am American, America First and I’m going to get out of it’ – that won’t happen.”
Juncker is referring to a provision in the Paris agreement that allows countries to exit after it’s been in force for at least three years. The Paris agreement went into force in November 2016, so Trump may have to wait until November 2019 to pull out.
“We tried to explain that to Mr. Trump in Taormina in clear German sentences,” Juncker said to laughter. “It seems our attempt failed, but the law is the law, and it must be obeyed. Not everything which is law and not everything in international agreements is fake news, and we have to comply with it.”
Juncker is forgetting that Trump has two other paths to withdraw from the Paris accord. Trump can consider it a treaty and send it to the Senate for approval — a process virtually every other Paris signatory went through.
He can also withdraw from the U.N. framework global warming treaty, which is the parent treaty to the Paris accord. Trump could withdraw from this immediately, and the Senate would be required to ratify future joining of the framework treaty.
Trump promised to “cancel” the Paris agreement on the campaign trail, and White House aides have told reporters he is still leaning towards exiting the deal.
The president is expected to announce his decision sometime this week.
But Trump could still change his mind at the last minute. He may opt to remain in the Paris accord with a weaker pledge than the one the Obama administration submitted in 2016.
That route would be unpopular with Republicans and conservative activists who argue staying in Paris poses legal risks to the president’s domestic agenda.
“Exiting the agreement would overturn Obama’s end run around the treaty process, safeguard Americans’ ability to self-govern without foreign influence, dispel the long shadow over our economic and energy future, and expand access to affordable energy around the globe, helping eradicate poverty at home and abroad,” said Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute who also headed Trump’s EPA transition team.
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