Paris Withdrawal Is Latest Step in Trump’s Energy Policy Reversal

Published July 27, 2017

President Donald Trump’s June withdrawal of the United States from the Paris climate accord and other actions reversing decisions by President Barack Obama put into action a stated policy of the Trump administration to make energy independence and global economic competitiveness a priority over commitments to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions.

As part of the multilateral assessment of climate obligations by the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change in late February, six nations submitted written questions to the United States concerning its plans for cutting greenhouse-gas emissions. On April 28, the Trump administration responded, saying the United States has been “reviewing existing policies and regulations in the context of a focus on strengthening U.S. economic growth and promoting jobs for American workers, and will not support policies or regulations that have adverse effects on energy independence and U.S. competitiveness,” or with some variation of that phrase in response to each of the six questions.

‘The Dominant Player’

Robert Bryce, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, says Trump’s reversal from the Obama administration’s policy positions on global warming is important because energy is the “master resource” that drives the world’s economy.

“Thanks to the shale revolution, the United States has completely upended the global energy sector,” Bryce said. “Whether the commodity is crude oil, refined products, petrochemicals, or liquefied natural gas, energy is the master resource and the United States is now the dominant player in the global market.”

‘Symbolic’ Paris Agreement

Bryce says the United States was right to exit the Paris climate agreement, because the deal accomplished nothing for the environment.

“The entire exercise was largely symbolic,” said Bryce. “Last year, a group of climate scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology projected 3.9 degrees Celsius of warming by 2100 without the Paris agreement and 3.7 degrees C with it, a difference of 0.2 degrees C. So, the deal is largely symbolic.” 

Tom Harris, executive director of the International Climate Science Coalition, says he hopes other countries follow the United States’ lead and withdraw from the Paris agreement.

“Regardless of what one thinks of the shaky science underlying the treaty, it is important to understand Paris treats developed and developing countries very differently, with countries that are the greatest source of energy-related carbon-dioxide emissions not being required to make emissions reductions,” Harris said. “President Trump is right to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement. I hope other developed countries follow suit.”

‘Trump Stands Alone’

Craig Idso, chairman of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, says Trump showed bold leadership by withdrawing from the Paris agreement.

“President Trump stands alone on the world stage as the only true global leader willing to call a spade a spade,” said Idso. “The Paris climate accord was less about saving the planet than about transferring wealth and ceding governing control from the United States to other nations of the world.”

Bryce says one way the Trump administration could create jobs and a more reliable energy supply is by embracing nuclear power.

“If President Trump wants to make a lasting contribution to the domestic energy sector, he should be looking for ways to support the development and licensing of new nuclear-energy technologies,” Bryce said.

Kenneth Artz ([email protected]) writes from Dallas, Texas.