US Withdrawal From Paris Climate Change Accord Said To Be Imminent

(AP Photo/Paolo Santalucia)

Axios is reporting that a decision by President Trump to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change has been made and the announcement is imminent:

President Trump has privately told multiple people, including EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, that he plans to leave the Paris agreement on climate change, according to three sources with direct knowledge.

Publicly, Trump’s position is that he has not made up his mind and when we asked the White House about these private comments, Director of Strategic Communications Hope Hicks said, “I think his tweet was clear. He will make a decision this week.”


This was foreshadowed by the US refusing to sign onto language at the G-7 summit yesterday supporting the Paris Agreement:

While the declaration included remarkable language highlighting that the U.S. stood apart, the other G7 members expressed some relief that Trump had not outright rejected the accord and said they remained hopeful he would come around

“The United States of America is in the process of reviewing its policies on climate change and on the Paris Agreement and thus is not in a position to join the consensus on these topics,” the leaders wrote. “Understanding this process, the Heads of State and of Government of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom and the Presidents of the European Council and of the European Commission reaffirm their strong commitment to swiftly implement the Paris Agreement, as previously stated at the Ise-Shima Summit.”

Trump economic adviser Gary Cohn told reporters on Saturday that the president “continues to study” the Paris agreement.

This is a solid move on the part of the administration. Even though the Paris Agreement is not a treaty, several environmentalist groups have said they intend to file lawsuits on climate change to enforce the Paris Agreement. If nothing else, we’ve seen enough lawless judges in the past five months to know that eventually one or more will decide that Trump has no option but to comply with the Paris Agreement. So long as we are a party to that atrocity, there is danger.


According to Axios, the Trump administration is looking at three possible scenarios for withdrawal:


  • Trump could announce he is pulling the U.S. from the deal, which would trigger a withdrawal process that wouldn’t conclude until November 2020 at the earliest. Under the deal’s terms, any country can’t send notice of its intent to withdraw until three years after the deal entered into force, which was Nov. 4, 2016. The actual process of withdrawal would then take one year. In this time, it’s feasible Trump could change his mind, the administration source said.
  • Trump could declare that the Paris deal is actually a legal treaty that requires Senate approval. Such a vote would fail, and then Trump would have Senate backing to not abide by the deal, which he deems a treaty. A letter that 22 Senate Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, sent to Trump this week urging him to withdraw from the deal, increases the odds of this happening, the source said. Trump could also call for a Senate vote in combination with either the first or third option.
  • Trump could withdraw the U.S. from the treaty that underpins the Paris deal, which is called the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. This would be the most extreme option because it would take the U.S. out of all global climate diplomacy. This process would take just one year.

Some of this sounds rather specious. If, for instance, the Paris Agreement is a personal agreement signed by Obama and not a treaty, it is hard to see why Trump can’t pull the plug on the agreement and simply walk away as he is not bound by his predecessor’s agreements. If he takes option 2, and submits the Agreement for ratification and it fails, then no notice to withdraw is needed as we never agreed to it.


My preference would be to kick this to the Senate for action. It would be the right thing to do, constitutionally, and the Senate rejecting the treaty would mean more than Trump rejecting one of Obama’s personal deals.


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