Former White House adviser George David Banks puts “odds of greater than 60-40” on President Donald Trump re-entering the Paris Agreement before November 2020 when the U.S. is set to withdraw.
“Over the past year, the president has frequently expressed his willingness to “go back” into the agreement with the right deal, usually in the presence of foreign leaders,” Banks wrote in an op-ed published Friday, the anniversary of Trump’s announcement to leave the Paris accord.
Banks, who left the White House in February, said Trump will rejoin the Paris accord if “a better deal produces political benefits,” which Banks says can be completed simply by Trump submitting a new plan to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
Banks noted that Trump’s speech to exit the Paris accord ended with the president saying he’d “begin negotiations to re-enter either the Paris accord or a really entirely new transaction on terms that are fair to the United States.”
Banks believes Trump will eventually exercise that option before the November 2020 election.
“In re-entering the agreement, President Trump could define a narrative that would be very difficult for his opponents to overcome,” Banks wrote in The Hill. “The emergence of the president from G7 talks with Paris re-entry as a deliverable would dominate world headlines.”
Banks was a major voice in the White House for sticking with the Paris accord. He was joined by former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, former national security adviser H.R. McMaster, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.
Corporations, Democrats, environmental groups, celebrities and European leaders all urged Trump to stick with the Paris accord, which the Obama administration joined in 2016 without seeking Senate approval.
Even then, Trump listened to Republican lawmakers and conservative groups who argued for exiting the Paris accord. With Banks, Tillerson and McMaster gone, pro-Paris groups have fewer advocates in the White House.
Still, Banks says the Paris accord’s popularity among Americans, its flexibility and the need for a GOP political victory would drive Trump to rejoin the Paris accord and replace former President Barack Obama’s pledged emissions cuts with his own.
Trump promised to leave the Paris agreement exactly one year ago on Friday. (RELATED: A Plan To Save Struggling Coal Plants Is Circulating Around The White House)
“In the end, the decision is in the president’s hands, but I place the odds of greater than 60-40 that President Trump, the dealmaker, scores a Paris political victory shortly before the 2020 election, thanks in large part to the flexibility that his predecessor gave him,” Banks wrote.
Former Trump transition team leader Myron Ebell wrote an article for the June issue of Standpoint magazine that takes the opposite view of Banks.
“It’s not going to happen,” wrote Ebell, the director of energy and climate policy at the free market Competitive Enterprise Institute.
“It’s not going to happen in the first Trump administration or in a possible second Trump administration,” Ebell said. “And it will be very difficult for a future president — Democrat or Republican — to get the US back into Paris or any other UN agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from burning coal, oil, and gas.”
“If the Trump deregulatory strategy is successful in reviving manufacturing, then it’s going to benefit many of the states that elected Trump,” Ebell argued.
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