As the Trump White House continues its cleanup of the mess — foreign and domestic — left behind by the Obama administration, it should toss out a little-noticed document that entangles the U.S. in some of the worst schemes ever cooked up by U.N. bureaucrats and their cronies in the global environmental movement.
On September 16, 2016, the Obama EPA entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP). Concluded just a few weeks before the 2016 presidential election, the MOU bears the signature for the U.S. of then-EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. In the document, UNEP and the Obama EPA vow to “consolidate, further develop and intensify their cooperation and effectiveness to achieve their common goals and objectives in the field of the environment.”
And therein lies the problem. For the “common goals and objectives” shared by the U.N. body and the Obama administration are specifically crafted to hamstring American fossil-fuel energy development, promote an assortment of politically fashionable, but otherwise uncompetitive, green technologies and products, and perpetuate the deplorable living conditions in the world’s poorest countries.
An Instrument of the Paris Climate Accord
The document was signed nine months after the adoption of the U.N.-sponsored Paris climate accord, and the wording of the MOU leaves little doubt that it was seen as an instrument to underscore America’s commitment to curtail its production and use of energy in the name of combatting climate change. Thus, UNEP and the Obama EPA agreed to “cooperate on responses to climate change,” including mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, reducing short-lived climate forcers and supporting adaptation and resilience to climate change.
Taking these and similar steps, the MOU says, will enable the advance “toward green economies and resource-efficient societies through collaborative activities to promote and support sustainable consumption and production.” In truth, “green economies” are those with taxpayer-subsidized and government-mandated renewable energy (primarily wind and solar). And what constitutes “sustainable consumption and production” is in the eyes of the beholding bureaucrat, empowered either by the administrative regulatory state or by legislation adopted at the behest of deep-pocketed special interests.
All of this is to be pursued through jointly held symposia, seminars, workshops, study tours, collaborative research and development projects, exchanges and training programs and other forms of cooperation that strengthen the bonds between UNEP and the U.S. Under the MOU, each side is to name a “Senior Coordinator” to oversee the holding of “regular joint meetings on matters of common interest.” To make sure the two sides stay in touch, “such meetings are to take place at least once every six months in accordance with an agenda approved by them in advance of every meeting.”
The outfit the Obama administration teamed up within the MOU, UNEP, was founded in 1972 by wealthy Canadian businessman Maurice Strong; it is headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya and has an office conveniently located in Washington, D.C. Strong (1929–2015) was Under-Secretary-General of the U.N. when he founded UNEP and was an early advocate for combatting what he said was human-induced climate change, then known as global warming.
In keeping with Strong’s vision, UNEP has worked closely with the Bonn-based United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). For its part, UNFCCC has enthusiastically spread climate alarmism and gone to extraordinary lengths to deny the residents of the world’s poorest access to reliable and affordable electricity and transportation fuel, thereby perpetuating their poverty.
Given UNEP’s pedigree and the Obama administration’s unbridled hostility to fossil fuels, President Trump should scrap the UNEP-EPA MOU. Trump and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt inherited the MOU from their predecessors and are under no obligation to adhere to its content. The White House has already withdrawn from the Paris climate accord, and President Trump chose to skip the climate-change session at the recent G7 meeting in Quebec.
Continued fealty to the Obama-era MOU runs counter to the president’s goal of American global energy dominance, which is anchored to our abundance of oil, natural gas, and coal. The ties that bound the UN and the Obama administration should not be allowed to constrain the choices of everyday Americans.
Even if the MOU is “non-binding,” so, too, are the commitments all parties agreed to under the Paris climate accord. But recognizing the threat the Paris accord posed to U.S. energy security, the Trump White House wisely walked away from it. The UNEP-EPA memorandum is little more than an implementation tool of the Paris agreement and should suffer the same fate.
Both are part of what is, at its core, a decidedly anti-American agenda.
Bonner R. Cohen, Ph.D, is a senior policy analyst with the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT).
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.