President Trump said that he will definitely give his decision on whether the US will participate in the global climate talks that aim to keep CO2 emissions and temperatures in check. His answer will come just after his meeting with European leaders last week, who privately pressured him to stay in the talks.
Axios reported over the weekend that Trump will announce the US is withdrawing, noting that he refused to sign climate change language at the G-7 summit. If this is true, this would fly in the face of the European Union, Canada and China that have implored the US to remain involved.
Big business is also appling a lot of pressure. And so are members of the president’s team such as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Presidential Advisor Jared Kushner. But EPA Chief Scott Pruitt is its biggest critic.
“I am trying to convince doubters. There is still work to do,”German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, as reported by Reuters. Her comments came last week in Berlin before 30 world leaders.
The global talks, which will continue in November 2017, aim to keep global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius by mid Century.
Berkshire Hathaway Energy, Calpine Corp., Exelon Corp., General Electric, PG&E Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell are among those voicing support for the accord. Furthermore, 365 businesses that include DuPont, General Mills and Schneider Electric signed a letter asking President Trump to stick to the Paris agreement.
Nearly half of the Fortune 500, for example, is taking steps to track and reduce their carbon emissions. Those companies are also trying to improve energy efficiencies and to increase their consumption of renewable energy, according to the just-released Power Forward 3.0 report. And as the cost of the technologies and the fuels drop, companies are striving to do more and more.
While President Trump has said that the agreement would hurt domestic economic growth and job, a study performed by the United Nations Development Program says that if the goals of the Paris accord signed in December 2015 are achieved, job growth would escalate and climate risks could be averted. The key finding: economic growth would be 10%, or $12 trillion greater by 2030.
Meantime, Chancellor Merkel points to an analysis by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development that concludes a global climate accord could increase economic output by up to 2.8% by 2050, Reuters reports.
“A low carbon path offers an opportunity to accelerate investment in infrastructure, create a short-term boost to economic growth and development and provide relief from problems like congestion, air pollution and lack of energy access,” the report said.
If the Trump administration remains involved, it could push its pro-nuclear position as well as pro-coal technologies such as carbon capture and sequestration — technologies that US companies manufacture. At the same time, oil and gas companies are producing record amounts of unconventional shale gas that they could liquefy and transport around the world.
And it is those same technologies that are now being used to curb CO2 in the United States. So, does the president’s skepticism of manmade global warming undercut US economic opportunities or increase them? The White House has said that it will try and defund all climate change initiatives, noting — in his words — that siphon off money from other national interests.
To that end, President Trump in March issued an executive order to either review or rescind the Clean Power Plan established during the previous administration. That plan, now being reviewed by the courts, sets out to cut CO2 emissions by 32% by 2030. The DC Circuit Court of Appeals now has the case and whose decision will invariably be appealed to the US Supreme Court.
In 2007, the Supreme Court ruled that carbon dioxide is a pollutant that could be regulated under the Clean Air Act—something that EPA made official in 2009, saying it was a danger to public health and welfare. And in 2014, the high court upheld that so-called endangerment finding. That ruling is the foundation behind President Obama’s Clean Power Plan.
How could the US join the Paris climate talks and try to rescind the Clean Power Plan at the same time? There is no logic in that. As far as the Clean Power Plan goes, the courts will be the determining factor. As far as the global warming agreement, world leaders along with big businesses may convince President Trump to keep the country’s seat at the table.