Paris Climate Treaty Garners Unlikely Supporters

The White House announced on March 30th that it would decide whether and how the United States will withdraw from the Paris Climate Treaty before the G-7 begins to meet on May 26th. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee and a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, published an op-ed in the Washington Times on March 29th urging the President to withdraw from Paris. My CEI colleague Chris Horner also published an op-ed on getting out of Paris earlier in March. 

On the other hand, considerable support for staying in Paris has emerged in recent days from unlikely places. Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND), a prominent Trump supporter during the campaign, has circulated a draft letter to President Trump for signature by his House colleagues that begins, “As you contemplate your actions related to the Paris Agreement, we would like to share with you the following conditions we believe should be met if the United States of America is to remain a party to the Agreement.” 

The conditions set down in Cramer’s letter include: replacing the U.S. Nationally Determined Contribution of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28% below the 2005 baseline by 2025 with a more modest target; ending funding of the Green Climate Fund while remaining a member of it in order to veto projects we don’t like; and using our “seat at the Paris table” to promote technologies such as carbon capture and storage that will ensure a future for coal. 

Rep. Cramer has not yet released his final letter, so we don’t know how many House Members have signed it. Another letter to President Trump was released this week. The president and CEO of Cloud Peak Energy (a Rocky Mountain coal company), Colin Marshall, urges the President to stay in the Paris Climate Treaty in order to “use U.S. influence to ensure that fossil energy remains a driver of global prosperity while addressing climate concerns.”

Although Marshall quotes economist Richard Tol on the fact that climate policies have been more about rewarding allies with subsidies than with reducing emissions, his letter then goes on to request subsidies for the coal industry, including funding for carbon capture and storage technology. My comments on the Cloud Peak letter can be found in Michael Bastasch’s article for the Daily Caller News Foundation. To summarize, I think the reasons given in the letter for staying in Paris are unbelievably stupid. It has been reported that Peabody Energy and Arch Coal have also told the White House that they do not object to staying in Paris if the administration can secure more funding for carbon capture and storage.