Conservatives Warn Trump Not To Approve Obama-Era Climate Treaty


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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter
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Right-of-center and libertarian organizations are calling on the White House to oppose the Kigali Amendment, a move they argue would save money and jobs.

Key conservative groups are ramping up lobbying efforts in order to persuade President Donald Trump not to approve of the Kigali Amendment, an international agreement reached in 2016 that calls on countries to eliminate the hydrofluorocarbons and greenhouse gases that are found in refrigerants and other devices.

The amendment, named after the Rwandan city it was founded in, builds upon the 1980s-era Montreal Protocol, which calls on countries to eliminate chemicals that eat away at the earth’s ozone layer.

However, groups such as the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and others argue that Kigali will dramatically hurt the U.S. economy while providing close to zero benefits for the atmosphere.

“Trump was right to withdraw from the more sweeping Paris Climate Treaty because of the large costs it would have imposed on Americans. If the president wants to hold true to that track record, he should let the Kigali Amendment die,” wrote CEI senior fellow Ben Lieberman in a column for Morning Consult.

Lieberman pointed out the new regulation would essentially eradicate affordable air conditioning units, leaving available only refrigerants that cost around $70 per pound — home air conditioners can require as much as 15 pounds.

“The idea that costlier air conditioners and refrigerators will be anything other than a net drain on the economy is sheer fantasy,” Dave Kreutzer, senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, said in a statement.

Heritage has joined CEI in urging the White House to oppose Kigali. More than 20 conservative think tanks and other organizations signed onto a letter addressed to the president, arguing the amendment would cause undue economic harm and provide minimal environmental benefit.

Their efforts might be having an impact. An official with the Department of State had previously gone so far as to say the administration supported Kigali — that statement was made in November. However, staffers are now publicly claiming they are weighing their options, marking a notable shift in opinion.

These groups have a lobbying fight on their hands. Business associations — which are usually in favor of the president’s rollback of regulations — have come out in major support of Kigali. The Air-Condition, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute — which represents over 300 different companies in the industry — has waged a public relations battle in favor of the amendment. Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy, which also represents refrigerant companies, has long stood in favor of the elimination of hydrofluorocarbons in their products. (RELATED: Big Business Refuses To Stop Pressuring Trump To Keep An Obama-Era Climate Treaty)

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other associations have taken their pro-Kigali campaign to the next level, launching Let America Lead. The new campaign is tailor-made for Trump’s eyes. Its website continually touts Kigali’s purported economic benefits, references to “America First” and seemingly includes no mention of the environment.

Kigali is set to go into effect by January 2019, but Trump must first send it to the Senate for ratification by a two-thirds vote.

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