While on the campaign trail, Donald Trump said he would end the United States’ participation in the 2015 Paris Agreement. But some of the President’s closest advisers disagree with the proposed move. The New York Times reported that Steve Bannon, senior adviser to Trump, wants the POTUS to completely back out of the deal. However, Bannon faces opposition from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and even the President’s daughter, Ivanka.
So far, the President has acted quickly to roll back the country’s global warming efforts. In his proposed budget, the EPA is facing a 25% cut in funding and as many as 3,000 EPA staffers stand to lose their jobs. Trump has issued – and plans to issue more – executive orders that reverse many environmental protections.
Scott Pruitt, Trump’s EPA chief, has also said that he doubts the validity of climate change science. Bannon has similarly rejected climate science. While CEO of Breitbart, Bannon continually called climate change a hoax.
In opposition of Bannon stands Sec. Tillerson. While serving as CEO of Exxon Mobil, Tillerson supported the agreement to reduce carbon pollution. Now, Sec. Tillerson is among several foreign policy advisers saying that the agreement goes far beyond just climate policy. The legally-binding deal has been signed by 193 other countries and backing out now could damage relations with member countries. After the election, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Trump that the US and Germany must work together to, “develop farsighted climate policy.”
Also squaring off against Bannon is climate-policy advocate Ivanka Trump, the President’s daughter. Ms. Trump met with activists Al Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio after the election, but so far she has not been very vocal on the topic. The President’s daughter has called climate change one of her “signature issues.”
The US, for its part in the Paris Agreement, planned on cutting carbon emissions by over 25% by 2025. Many believe that goal is now impossible with Pruitt eliminating the EPA’s measures to restrict coal plant pollution. The deal has no power to enforce any actions, but requires countries to publicize their efforts to reach pollution goals. This means that the US could stay involved in the deal while not making any substantial headway toward reducing emissions. That move would still likely draw the ire of foreign allies.
Aside from withdrawing from the pact, the President could also pass the decision to the Senate. According to the New York Times piece,
“Mr. Trump could declare that the Paris agreement is a treaty that requires ratification by the Senate. [The move] could shift some of the weight of the decision from Mr. Trump to Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, at least in the eyes of some foreign diplomats, and of the president’s daughter.”
Many believe that the Senate would never ratify such a treaty over fears that such a vague agreement would become binding under US law. But it could relieve Trump from any blame associated with the country’s exit from the deal.
The President plans to issue an executive order slashing even more Obama-era climate protections sometime next week and is likely to decide how to handle the Paris Agreement at that time.