You are here

Trump Ousts Tillerson: What's Next for the Paris Climate Treaty?

President Trump this morning ousted Rex Tillerson from his post as Secretary of State and plans to replace him with CIA director Mike Pompeo. Tillerson, under whose leadership ExxonMobil became an advocate of carbon taxes, led the pro-Paris climate treaty faction within the Trump administration. In stark contrast, in 2015, then-congressman Pompeo said about the Paris Agreement: “Congress must also do all in our power to fight against this damaging climate change proposal and pursue policies that support American energy, create new jobs, and power our economy.”

In what would appear to be poor timing, Axios Generate today features a podcast with former White House international energy aide George David Banks, who predicts Trump will eventually decide to stay in the Agreement. Trump hosts the G-7 summit in 2020, and “Banks calls that a venue to claim victory,” Axios reports. What sort of victory? Renegotiating the Agreement to get America a “better deal.” From the podcast:

I think it will be fairly easy for the president to agree that we are going to stay in, we are going to change the number, and then walk out of that summit arguing that he re-negotiated the Paris agreement and did something that no one thought he could do, and came up with a much better deal than what the previous administration presented.

That is deeply shallow. By “change the number,” Mr. Banks refers to President Obama’s Paris Agreement “nationally determined contribution” (NDC) pledge to reduce U.S. emissions 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. However, the specific numbers in Obama’s pledge are the least part of what makes the treaty toxic to the United States.

The Paris treaty is first and foremost an institution—a multi-decade legal framework constructed to mobilize political pressure, litigation, and punitive economic sanctions against the very pro-growth energy policies President Trump is fighting for.

Time to restate the obvious. Central to Mr. Trump’s vision of American greatness is a new era of U.S. energy dominance. The President is proudly repealing regulatory obstacles to the development, transport, and utilization of America’s “energy treasure.” Nothing could be more averse to Mr. Trump’s vision and agenda than the Paris Agreement, which seeks to rapidly phase out global access to fossil fuels, and which, like all such “progressive” policies, is wired to ratchet up in stringency and regulatory “ambition” over time.

The Paris debate boils down to a simple question Messrs. Banks and Tillerson never address on the record. Why do you advise the president to remain in a club set up to browbeat, cajole, and shame U.S. leaders to act against America’s best interests and their better judgment?