Donald Trump is apparently set to stop “evolving”, with an announcement expected this morning that the White House will pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement, Politico reports at 08:20 AM EDT.
“Trump’s move marks the second time in two decades that the United States has negotiated, signed but then spurned a major international climate pact following a change of party control in the White House,” the Beltway daily notes. “The previous occasion—the decision by George W. Bush to abandon the 1997 Kyoto accord negotiated by the Clinton administration—caused years of distrust of the U.S. in international climate circles.”
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“Paris could be Trump’s biggest blunder to date, from a historical and personal perspective. It would simultaneously weaken his presidency and ruin his brand,” writes Climate Progress founding editor Joe Romm. “It would give him a Neville Chamberlain or Richard Nixon level of historical notoriety — all to destroy a global deal that requires minimal effort by us to fulfill.”
Politico casts the decision as “a victory for hardliners such as senior White House adviser Stephen Bannon, who argued that the deal would hobble the U.S. economy and Trump’s energy agenda, and a defeat for moderates like Trump’s daughter Ivanka, who feared that withdrawing would damage U.S. relations abroad,” Politico states. The decision caps an endless string of false starts, cancelled meetings, and contradictory announcements, with reports in the last couple of days that the famously scattered and distractable former reality TV star was telling different aides different stories about what he planned to do.
There was no such inconsistency on the part of world leaders, U.S. businesses, state and local governments, some members of Congress and the Trump Cabinet, or climate and energy non-profits, all of which had built a “big, beautiful wall” (sorry, folks, but it really was—Ed.) of support for the landmark global pact. “World leaders repeatedly pressed Trump on the issue during his recent trip to Europe, as did Pope Francis, who gave the president his papal encyclical on climate change when they met in the Vatican,” Politico recalls. Improbably, Trump promised the pontiff he would read it. “Others who supported staying included Trump’s secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, and major oil companies such as ExxonMobil and Shell.”
In the last 24 hours, India Prime Minister Narendra Modi reportedly told German Chancellor Angela Merkel his country would stick to its Paris commitments, even if Trump pulled the U.S. out, Reuters reported yesterday. Days ago, India announced it was cancelling nearly 14 gigawatts of new coal capacity, with solar prices “free-falling” and the technology now less expensive than 92% of the country’s installed thermal plants.
Since the U.S. election in November, the government in Beijing has repeatedly said it’ll happily take on the sole mantle of global climate leadership, and reap the economic and diplomatic gains that result, if Trump is really so determined to help Make China Great Again.
Two noted U.S. allies have likewise declined to participate in the Paris deal, Politico notes: Syria and Nicaragua.