By MICHAEL BASTASCH
My, how time flies. Friday marks exactly one year since President Donald Trump announced the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris Agreement on man-made global warming.
The Paris accord, which the Obama administration joined in 2016, put the U.S. at an economic disadvantage with other countries — namely China and India — amounting to a plan to “redistribute wealth out” of America, Trump said.
“This agreement is less about the climate and more about other countries gaining a financial advantage over the United States,” Trump said on June 1, 2017, in a speech on the White House lawn.
“The agreement doesn’t eliminate coal jobs; it just transfers those jobs out of America,” Trump added, “and ships them to other countries.”
Trump promised to “cancel” the Paris climate accord on the campaign trail; but he took nearly six months to announce his decision, dividing his cabinet and political advisers.
Former President Barack Obama joined the Paris Agreement in 2016 without Senate approval, pledging to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. However, China only committed to “peak” emissions by 2030 while India made no promise to curtail future emissions growth.
In the end, anti-Paris accord forces won the day and convinced Trump to withdraw from the Paris Agreement in 2019, which is when the accord allows parties to withdraw.
While some conservative policy wonks want to see Trump send the Paris Agreement to the Senate where it will surely be shot down, most are content to let the U.S. slowly pull back from international climate talks until withdrawal is possible.
“What President Trump really did was declare an end to the war on affordable energy for Americans and signal that the world’s greatest republic was no longer going to going to stoop to extra-constitutional means to join governments around the world in seeking new ways to tax their citizens,” Dan Kish, distinguished fellow at the Institute for Energy Research, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“He is a disruptor and showed by his actions that on his watch, Americans will not be forced to become guinea pigs or lemmings,” Kish noted.
Trump’s decision “stopped the war on affordable energy,” former Trump transition team leader Myron Ebell said. Ebell, the director of energy and global warming policy at the free market Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), also touted the 183,000 manufacturing jobs created during Trump’s tenure in office.
CEI was among the groups leading the “resistance” to the Paris accord. Conservative activists and policy experts worked behind the scenes to convince Trump to stick to his campaign promise and ditch Paris.
Several key Trump administration personnel, Democrats and much of corporate America opposed leaving the Paris agreement.
Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner led the pro-Paris faction of Trump’s administration. Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and former White House energy adviser George David Banks were also strong voices against withdrawal.
Leaving the agreement would hurt the U.S. diplomatically and staying in it would have little blowback since it’s not legally binding, Pro-Paris Trump officials argued. (RELATED: California, Texas Face Rolling Blackouts If Summer Heat Stresses The Grid)
Conservatives groups, however, had key allies in Trump’s administration, including Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt and former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon.
Pruitt went public with his opposition to the Paris accord and “used his new post as EPA administrator to orchestrate an aggressive campaign to marshal conservative opposition” to the agreement, Politico reported.
General counsel Donald McGahn was “probably the most pivotal voice” in the White House advocating for a withdrawal from the Paris agreement, a source close to the matter told TheDCNF in 2017.
“We were having trouble getting traction on the argument that the agreement poses some legal risk,” the source said. “Until he joined the conversation.”
During two closed-door meetings in 2017, McGahn warned Trump the U.S. may not be able to adjust its pledge to cut emissions, and he said environmentalists could use the Paris agreement to undermine Trump’s deregulatory agenda.
However, a letter from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and 21 other top Republican lawmakers in late May 2017 “reinforced Trump’s instincts to withdraw” from the Paris agreement, Axios reported.
CEI was pivotal in convincing senators to send the letter that gave Trump the final nudge needed to announce withdrawal.