President Trump will attend the G7 Summit in Italy on Friday. This meeting of foreign leaders reportedly will pressure Trump to reverse his decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement, as Trump repeatedly promised American voters he would do, recently comparing it to the Iran deal.
For Trump, staying in the Paris Climate Agreement presents two big problems. First, this would break a promise to millions of voters who want Trump to stop former President Barack Obama’s march toward energy poverty and a weaker economy.
Second, it would concede to a global pressure campaign to make U.S. energy policies increasingly unaccountable to Americans and beholden to the demands of foreign bureaucrats. Staying in the Paris agreement is also irreconcilable with Trump’s energy agenda, which includes rolling back the Environmental Protection Agency’s harmful Clean Power Plan.
The better option for Trump and millions of Americans would be to keep his promise and send the Paris Climate Agreement to the Senate to die. This is a critical step in unraveling Obama’s war on affordable energy and maintaining self-governance on U.S. economic and energy issues.
To even achieve the first U.S. commitment under the Paris Agreement would require multiple Clean Power Plan mandates to significantly reduce oil, coal and natural gas use. These reductions would raise energy prices and devastate many state economies.
All of this pain would be in exchange for, as economist Bjorn Lomborg explains, an undetectable climate impact of 0.05 degrees Celsius by 2100, even under the rosiest assumptions.
Unfortunately, some White House advisers are supporting “green jobs” schemes like the Paris agreement, ignoring how these policies caused huge job losses, drastically increased energy prices and resulted in energy poverty in Europe.
In 2014, Spanish unemployment reached 25 percent, while Spain’s reliance on green energy programs threatened to bankrupt the country. Spain’s energy prices have spiked as much as 50 percent since 2006 and more than 4 million are unable to properly heat their homes, according to Spain’s National Statistics Institute.
Electricity has become “a luxury good” in Germany, disproportionately burdening the poor, according to a leading German magazine. The country’s electricity rates are approximately triple U.S. rates.
Not only does the Paris Climate Agreement threaten the U.S. economy and Americans’ quality of life, but failure to withdraw from the agreement entrenches a constitutionally damaging precedent, ensures decades of diplomatic blowback and poses huge legal risks.
Although administration officials claim the agreement could be renegotiated, the agreement is already final, and its terms require ever more stringent promises every five years. This cleverly degrades any value of the vaunted “seat at the table.”
The notion the Paris agreement isn’t “legally binding,” despite claiming to have many legally binding terms, is a distraction to deflect opposition. Obama unilaterally declared the Paris Climate Agreement to be a “nonbinding” executive agreement, rather than a treaty so he could give his political agenda treaty-like status without constitutionally required Senate approval.
But the Paris agreement is far from being nonbinding, and its commitments cannot be met without new U.S. laws, regulations, and appropriations to implement them. It intends to force the hand of Congress and future administrations on policies Americans have repeatedly rejected.
The dreaded “diplomatic blowback” is baked into this cake. The Paris Agreement is designed to ensure compliance through a campaign of such blowback until U.S. leaders relent. The pressure Trump is facing now is a feature of Paris, not a temporary bug.
Finally, there are huge legal risks inherent in not withdrawing from the Paris Agreement. A court could declare the EPA’s harmful greenhouse gas regulations are required as a treaty obligation under the Paris Agreement, even though Trump already issued an executive order to halt them. Activist attorneys general are already lining up to “ensur[e] that the promises made in Paris become reality.”
Given these risks and costs, Trump should keep his promise, adhere to U.S. treaty practice and give the Senate the same opportunity other parliaments had to consider the Paris Climate Agreement. By sending Paris to the Senate, Trump would finally do what France, Germany, Japan, Canada, Mexico, and Australia did. Giving the people’s elected representatives a vote is a constitutional requirement, not an option.
Originally posted to Washington Examiner.