Sunday, March 12, 2017

GWPF Newsletter: G-20 Poised To Signal Retreat From Paris Climate Deal Pledge








New EPA Head Stacks Agency With Climate Sceptics

In this newsletter:

1) G-20 Poised To Signal Retreat From Paris Climate Deal Pledge
Bloomberg, 11 March 2017
 
2) EPA Chief Calls Paris Agreement ‘A Bad Deal’ Amid Internal White House Struggle
The Daily Caller, 9 March 2017
 
3) White House: Obama’s Climate Plan Is Gone — And There’s No Replacement
E&E News, 9 March
 
4) New EPA Head Stacks Agency With Climate Sceptics
The New York Times, 7 March 2017
 
5) Christopher Horner: Nixing The Paris Climate Pact
The Washington Times, 7 March 2017

Full details:

1) G-20 Poised To Signal Retreat From Paris Climate Deal Pledge
Bloomberg, 11 March 2017
Joe Ryan

Finance ministers for the U.S., China, Germany and other members of the Group of 20 economies may scale back a robust pledge for their governments to combat climate change, ceding efforts to the private sector.


Image result for Paris Agreement GWPF

Citing “scarce public resources,” the ministers said they would encourage multilateral development banks to raise private funds to accomplish goals set under the 2015 Paris climate accord, according to a preliminary statement drafted for a meeting that will be held in Germany next week.

The statement, obtained by Bloomberg News, is a significant departure from a communique issued in July, when finance ministers urged governments to quickly implement the Paris Agreement, including a call for wealthy nations to make good on commitments to mobilize $100 billion annually to cut greenhouse gases around the globe.

“It basically says governments are irrelevant. It’s complete faith in the magic of the marketplace,” John Kirton, director of the University of Toronto’s G-20 Research Group, said in an interview. “That is very different from the existing commitments they have repeatedly made.”

Mnuchin’s Debut
The shift in tone comes as U.S. President Donald Trump’s Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, prepares for his first G-20 meeting, scheduled for March 17 to 18 in the spa town of Baden-Baden. While European nations including Germany have been at the forefront of combating global warming, Trump has called climate change a hoax.

The Republican president vowed during his campaign to “cancel” the Paris agreement but has said little about the deal since taking office. His cabinet members, meanwhile, have sent mixed signals. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the U.S. should keep a seat at the table for international climate talks. Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, on Thursday expressed doubt that humans were to blame for global warming and called the Paris agreement a “bad deal” for the U.S.

Several leaders of G-20 nations have expressed strong support for combating climate change and upholding the Paris accord since Trump’s election, including China and the U.K. The annual summit of G-20 heads of state is scheduled for July in Hamburg. It’s unclear what countries pushed for the new language in the finance ministers’ draft statement, which is likely to undergo revisions before being formally adopted.

The most notable element of the draft is what’s missing. The statement issued after the G-20 finance ministers and central bank governors meeting in July dedicated 163 words to the Paris Agreement, pushing nations to bring the deal into force, meet emissions targets and fulfill financial pledges. This current draft dedicates just 47 words to the agreement, focusing exclusively on development banks raising private funds, without mentioning government financial support.

Full story

2) EPA Chief Calls Paris Agreement ‘A Bad Deal’ Amid Internal White House Struggle
The Daily Caller, 9 March 2017
Michael Bastasch

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt weighed in on an issue the Trump administration has been silent on since taking the reins of government in January. Pruitt said the Paris climate agreement was “a bad deal” that should have been treated by the Obama administration as a treaty, instead of an executive agreement.

“I happen to think the Paris accord, the Paris treaty, or the Paris Agreement, if you will, should have been treated as a treaty, should have gone through senate confirmation,” Pruitt told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” Thursday morning. “That’s a concern.”

Pruitt’s comments, first reported by Reuters, is the first time a top Trump administration official has weighed in on the agreement since January. Most reporters, however, focused on Pruitt’s remarks that carbon dioxide is not a “primary contributor to the global warming that we see.”

One former EPA transition team member was pleased with Pruitt’s remarks. Chris Horner, a senior fellow at the Energy & Environment Legal Institute and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, has long been a critic of the Paris agreement.
 

horner

Pruitt’s remarks come amid reports of an internal struggle over whether or not to stay in the United Nations global warming pact, which President Barack Obama made the U.S. party to in 2016 without Senate consent.

One one side, Ivanka Trump, White House adviser Jared Kushner and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson are urging Trump to stay in the Paris agreement, sources told Politico and The New York Times.

Such reports came on the heels of news Kushner and Ivanka “intervened to strike language about the climate deal from an earlier draft of the executive order” on the EPA’s climate regulations, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Ivanka and her husband Kushner “have been considered a moderating influence on the White House’s position on climate change and environmental issues,” WSJ reported.

White House adviser Steve Bannon opposes staying in the Paris pact, according to reports. Bannon wants to exit the deal, fulfilling a major promise President Donald Trump made on the campaign trail.

“We’re going to cancel the Paris Climate Agreement and stop all payments of U.S. tax dollars to U.N. global warming programs,” Trump said in a May campaign speech.

Full story

3) White House: Obama’s Climate Plan Is Gone — And There’s No Replacement
E&E News, 9 March
Evan Lehmann

The White House intends to unravel the Clean Power Plan without providing a replacement, according to a source briefed on the issue. 
 

President Donald Trump WOTUS
President Trump after signing an executive order to roll back the Obama administration's Waters of the U.S. rule. A rule taking aim at the Clean Power Plan is still in the works. Photo courtesy of @NACoTweets via Twitter.

An executive order expected to be released next week also instructs the Justice Department to effectively withdraw its legal defense of the climate rule in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The move aligns the White House with about two dozen Republican state attorneys general who are challenging the way the rule restricts greenhouse gas emissions at power plants.

The result, if successful, would mean the case is “frozen in place,” the source said, preventing the D.C. Circuit, which has six judges appointed by Democrats and four by Republicans, from issuing an opinion this spring. Other legal experts say the case could continue if states or other groups go on defending the rule.

“Justice goes to the court and says … ‘Don’t waste your time trying to put together an opinion when the legal basis for the case that you’re reviewing could potentially go away,’” the source said. “Normally, a court will grant that. There’s no guarantee.”

It was unclear until now if the Trump administration would “repeal and replace” the Clean Power Plan, or just set upon a path to undo it. Some had anticipated that the Trump administration might pursue an alternative and much less stringent rule, but the executive order will only call for the withdrawal of the regulation.

That raises questions about whether EPA would fail to satisfy legal requirements to regulate carbon dioxide and other climate pollutants.

The agency in 2009, responding to the Supreme Court, determined that greenhouse gases endanger human health. That requires EPA to regulate emissions, and the agency did that by promulgating the Clean Power Plan.

“I think, as a matter of law, that carbon is a pollutant has been settled,” said Christine Todd Whitman, who served as EPA administrator under President George W. Bush. “EPA has to act once you have that kind of a finding.”

Full story

4) New EPA Head Stacks Agency With Climate Sceptics
The New York Times, 7 March 2017
Carol Davenport

Scott Pruitt, the new head of EPA, has moved to stock the top offices of the agency with like-minded conservatives — many of them skeptics of climate change and all of them intent on rolling back environmental regulations that they see as overly intrusive and harmful to business.
 

Scott Pruitt, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, last month. He built a career suing the agency he now leads. Credit Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

Days after the Senate confirmed him as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt appeared at the Conservative Political Action Conference and was asked about addressing a group that probably wanted to eliminate his agency.

“I think it’s justified,” he responded, to cheers. “I think people across the country look at the E.P.A. the way they look at the I.R.S.”

In the days since, Mr. Pruitt, a former Oklahoma attorney general who built a career out of suing the agency he now leads, has moved to stock the top offices of the agency with like-minded conservatives — many of them skeptics of climate change and all of them intent on rolling back environmental regulations that they see as overly intrusive and harmful to business.

Mr. Pruitt has drawn heavily from the staff of his friend and fellow Oklahoma Republican, Senator James Inhofe, long known as Congress’s most prominent skeptic of climate science. A former Inhofe chief of staff, Ryan Jackson, will be Mr. Pruitt’s chief of staff. Another former Inhofe staff member, Byron Brown, will serve as Mr. Jackson’s deputy. Andrew Wheeler, a fossil fuel lobbyist and a former Inhofe chief of staff, is a finalist to be Mr. Pruitt’s deputy, although he requires confirmation to the position by the Senate.

To friends and critics, Mr. Pruitt seems intent on building an E.P.A. leadership that is fundamentally at odds with the career officials, scientists and employees who carry out the agency’s missions. That might be a recipe for strife and gridlock at the federal agency tasked to keep safe the nation’s clean air and water while safeguarding the planet’s future.

“He’s the most different kind of E.P.A. administrator that’s ever been,” said Steve J. Milloy, a member of the E.P.A. transition team who runs the website JunkScience.com, which aims to debunk climate change. “He’s not coming in thinking E.P.A. is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Quite the opposite.” […]

Full post

5) Christopher Horner: Nixing The Paris Climate Pact
The Washington Times, 7 March 2017

Simply rolling back Obama environmental rules is not enough

Recent media reports suggest a conflict within the Trump White House over whether to keep the president’s campaign promise “to cancel the Paris Climate Agreement,” the successor to the rejected Kyoto Protocol. President Trump also promised to roll Barack Obama’s controversial and harmful climate agenda back, yet the Paris agreement, signed in September 2016 just before the presidential election, is the capstone of that agenda, committing us to keep the agenda in place, and forever tighten it.

Rescinding the policies but promising to continue them are irreconcilable. Such baby-splitting would create not just a glaring policy conflict in the Trump White House, but would have lasting repercussions.

The pro-Paris camp seems unaware that the agreement promised much more than the Obama climate rules that Mr. Trump is rescinding. Its signature, cynical hook was also a promise to make such American laws ever more stringent, every five years, in perpetuity.

Clearly, the Paris agreement is a treaty not just by custom and practice but by its own terms. It thereby requires Senate ratification, which Mr. Trump can seek — and should — if he does not simply renounce the purported commitment.

For the same reason the Paris treaty is the sort of long-term commitment requiring Senate approval, the principal threat against Mr. Trump if he follows through on his promise — diplomatic blowback — makes absolutely no sense. With its escalator clause requiring promises of more stringent cuts every five years the Paris treaty deliberately engineered a recurring threat of diplomatic repercussions unless we adopt devastating policies. If we do not abandon the Paris treaty now, but simply claim we will not abide by it, both Mr. Trump and his successors will face the same threat not once, but every five years, until we relent.

Breaking his campaign promise by giving in cannot be an option.

Candidate Trump articulated specific problems with the Paris treaty in explaining his vow to rescind it: The agreement is “bad for U.S. business” and allows “foreign bureaucrats control over how much energy we use.”

Nothing about the Paris treaty has changed. The only change is the reported effort by certain White House influences to keep telling the world we will remain committed to the treaty while the president begins formally undoing related climate policies. Clearly, this conflict must be resolved, preferably during this week’s anticipated announcement rescinding the Obama climate agenda, but certainly before the post-Paris negotiations kick off in May.

One potential move Mr. Trump could make is treating the Paris pact as a legitimate executive agreement and initiating its four-year withdrawal provision, leaving future U.S. participation up to whomever wins the 2020 presidential race.

Better, Mr. Trump could send the Paris treaty to the Senate for ratification. Far from dignifying the treaty, as some inaccurately fret, this would have the benefit of freezing U.S. commitment as pending. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could give those 10 red-state Democrats up for re-election the opportunity to show voters where they really stand on this issue. The Paris treaty most likely would end up as one of more than 400 treaties the United States signed but for which it never obtained Senate approval.

Finally, Mr. Trump could resolve the Paris conflict most effectively by withdrawing from the voluntary 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which was ratified by the Senate as a treaty. This pact expressly covered emissions until the end of the 1990s, and the Senate expressly asserted at the time that it was not open-ended. The Paris treaty now seeks, implausibly, to extend the UNFCCC with mandatory promises of more stringent cuts, every five years forever, never with Senate advice and consent.

With the parties to the UNFCCC having walked away from the understanding struck 25 years ago, the United States should formalize this abandonment by withdrawing.

President Trump must keep his campaign promises to rescind the Obama climate agenda. To do so requires nullifying Mr. Obama’s illegitimate claim to have bound the United States to the Paris climate treaty. Withdrawing from the UNFCCC makes the most, lasting sense. At a minimum, he must declare that the Paris agreement is a treaty and restore the Senate’s role in the treaty-making power before it is lost.

• Christopher C. Horner is a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

See also:
Benny Peiser: Three (perfectly democratic) reasons Donald Trump will absolutely smother the Paris climate deal

The London-based Global Warming Policy Forum is a world leading think tank on global warming policy issues. The GWPF newsletter is prepared by Director Dr Benny Peiser - for more information, please visit the website at www.thegwpf.com.

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