Wednesday, April 19, 2017

GWPF Newsletter: Trump Administration May Not Find Middle Ground On Paris Climate Deal








White House Divided Over Trump’s Election Pledge To Cancel Paris Climate Deal

In this newsletter:

1) Trump Administration May Not Find Middle Ground On Paris Climate Deal
Morning Consult, 17 April 2017
 
2) White House Divided Over Trump’s Election Pledge To Cancel Paris Climate Deal
The New York Times, 18 April 2017
 
3) CEI Calls On Trump To Keep His Promise And Withdraw From Paris Climate Deal
The Washington Examiner, 18 April 2017
 
4) CEI: Staying In The Paris Climate Treaty Will Shackle Trump’s Energy Policy
Competitive Enterprise Institute, 17 April 2017
 
5) Coal’s Colossal Comeback
The American Spectator, 17 April 2017
 
6) Reality Check: China Gas Output Rises To Record Levels As Coal Production Rebounds
Bloomberg, 17 April 2017
 
7) And Finally: Obama’s ‘Global Warming Drought’ Over As Northern California Sees Wettest Year On Record
Associated Press, 15 April 2017

Full details:

1) Trump Administration May Not Find Middle Ground On Paris Climate Deal
Morning Consult, 17 April 2017
Jack Fitzpatrick

As the Trump administration debates whether to stay in the Paris climate agreement, observers are skeptical that opposing wings of the administration will reach a middle ground.

President Donald Trump’s top advisers are expected to meet Tuesday to discuss whether the U.S. should remain in the agreement, Politico reported. The White House did not confirm on Monday that the meeting would happen.

Trump has been critical of the Paris deal’s potential effect on the U.S. economy, and told Reuters during last year’s presidential campaign that he may “renegotiate” the deal. But it seems unlikely that the debate could lead to a compromise in which the U.S. stays in the Paris agreement while reducing its commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Michael McKenna, an energy lobbyist who led the Department of Energy’s transition team, said the text of the deal does not allow countries to reduce their commitments, and anything but a full-fledged withdrawal would undermine Trump’s focus on rolling back environmental regulations.

The agreement’s text specifically allows a country to adjust its greenhouse gas targets if it is “enhancing its level of ambition,” but not to reduce promises.

“There’s no way to square this circle,” said McKenna, who supports a full-fledged exit from the Paris agreement. “The president is going to have to decide, you’re in or you’re out.”

Trump’s efforts to roll back other environmental regulations, including the Clean Power Plan and auto-emissions standards, are “window dressing” if the administration maintains its promises under the Paris agreement, McKenna said in a phone interview on Monday.

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2) White House Divided Over Trump’s Election 0Pledge To Cancel Paris Climate Deal
The New York Times, 18 April 2017
Coral Davenport

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s divided policy advisers will meet Tuesday afternoon to hash over whether Mr. Trump should withdraw the United States from the landmark Paris climate accord of 2015, and the side pressing the president to remain in the deal enters the pivotal meeting with the upper hand.

Mr. Trump plans to make a final decision on the fate of the Paris agreement before a meeting of the Group of 7 leading economies at the end of May, according to Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary.

On the campaign trail, Mr. Trump vowed to “cancel” the climate deal, and his most politically conservative advisers, including his senior strategist Stephen K. Bannon, have pushed him to follow through. But Mr. Bannon’s influence has waned in recent weeks, while authority has risen for Mr. Trump’s daughter Ivanka and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who advocate staying in the accord.

Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson, the former chief executive of Exxon Mobil, has also spoken in favor of “keeping a seat at the table” in the climate pact, and in recent days, major corporations have stepped forward to embrace that position.

While no decision has been made, experts tracking it say that view is gaining traction.

“We do not currently believe the Trump administration plans to withdraw from either Paris agreement,” wrote Kevin Book, an analyst at ClearView Energy Partners, a Washington firm, in a memo to clients on Monday.

While Mr. Trump does not have the power to undo a multilateral United Nations accord, he could withdraw the world’s largest economy from the pact, weakening it substantially. Such a move would win cheers from the nation’s most powerful conservative political advocates, and give Mr. Trump bragging rights in coal country.

But withdrawing from the landmark accord that committed nearly every nation to take action against planet-warming emissions could create diplomatic blowback, while weakening American leadership in arenas far afield from energy and the environment.

Besides, keeping the United States’ name on the accord does not obligate the Trump administration to abide by the ambitious emissions-control pledges of Mr. Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama. At least one senior White House climate policy adviser, George David Banks, has advocated staying in the agreement while replacing the Obama plan with a weaker, more industry-friendly pledge.

Over recent weeks, Mr. Banks has asked top officials at several major corporations, including Exxon Mobil, who have similar views, to submit letters to the White House confirming their support of staying in the Paris deal, even if in a modified form.

In response, Peter Trelenberg, the manager of environmental policy and planning at Exxon Mobil, wrote to Mr. Banks, “Exxon Mobil supports the Paris agreement as an effective framework for addressing the risks of climate change.”

Royal Dutch Shell and BP, European companies with significant investments in the United States, have also endorsed the accord.

Last month, Representative Kevin Cramer, a Republican from oil-, gas- and coal-rich North Dakota, wrote, “The U.S. should present a new pledge that does no harm to our economy.” Mr. Cramer, an early supporter of Donald J. Trump, advised Mr. Trump on energy issues during his presidential campaign.
Photo

Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, spoke last week to coal miners in Sycamore, Pa. He has emerged as a leading voice for withdrawal from the Paris accord. CreditJustin Merriman/Getty Images

Colin Marshall, the chief executive of Cloud Peak, a major coal producer in Wyoming, the nation’s largest coal-mining state, also wrote to Mr. Trump: “By remaining in the Paris agreement, albeit with a much different pledge on emissions, you can help shape a more rational international approach to climate policy.”

Regardless of his decision, Mr. Trump has already undermined the United States’ ability to meet its Paris pledge. Mr. Obama declared that the United States would reduce its planet-warming carbon pollution about 26 percent from 2005 levels by 2025. Its primary policy for meeting that target would be the Clean Power Plan, a set of Environmental Protection Agency regulations designed to shutter hundreds of heavily polluting coal-fired power plants, the nation’s chief source of greenhouse emissions.

Last month, Mr. Trump directed Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, to begin the legal process of dismantling the Clean Power Plan. Whether or not the United States remains in the Paris pact, it almost certainly will not be able to meet its pledged pollution-reduction targets.

Mr. Pruitt has emerged as a leading voice for withdrawal from the Paris deal. Last week, he told Fox News, “It’s something we need to exit.”
That reflects the views of powerful conservative political advocacy groups such as Americans for Prosperity, which is funded by the influential libertarian brothers Charles G. and David H. Koch.

“What we say to the White House is that it’s clearly a terrible agreement for the American people,” said Tim Phillips, the president of Americans for Prosperity.

That view is also backed by economists at the Heritage Foundation, the conservative think tank that has supplied the Trump administration with many of its policy proposals.

Harold G. Hamm, the chief executive of Continental Resources and a Trump campaign adviser, has also condemned the pact. “Cancel the Paris climate treaty and any other agreements entered into unilaterally and without the consent of Congress,” Mr. Hamm wrote in a letter to Mr. Trump before his inauguration.

Bob Murray, the chief executive of the coal company Murray Energy, who is personally close with the president, has also strongly criticized the deal.

Mr. Book, the analyst, noted that the risks of withdrawing from the Paris deal include not only diplomatic ill will, but also the possibility of trade reprisals. Countries that tax emissions of carbon dioxide pollution could place a carbon tariff on imports of American-made goods. The European Union currently charges polluters fees for carbon emissions, while China, Mexico and Canada are in the process of carrying out such programs.

“If the U.S. were to pull out, it would do so in the context that would invite trade reprisals,” Mr. Book said. “It could lead to a carbon tariff trade war.”

Daniel M. Bodansky, an expert in international environmental agreements at Arizona State University, said that remaining in the Paris deal but weakening the United States’ commitment could still have the effect of generating some ill will — but without the repercussions of trade sanctions.

“They could just submit a new plan,” he said. “People internationally would not be happy, but they’d be a lot less unhappy than if the U.S. actually pulled out.”


3) CEI Calls On Trump To Keep His Promise And Withdraw From Paris Climate Deal
The Washington Examiner, 18 April 2017

The conservative free-market think tank Competitive Enterprise Institute started an online campaign Tuesday to urge President Trump to keep his campaign promise and withdraw from the Paris climate change agreement.

 
Trump-Paris3
President Trump: Withdraw from the Paris Climate Treaty

The campaign comes as the president’s top advisers assemble Tuesday to decide whether or not to exit from the global accord, even though the White House has repeatedly said it won’t make a decision until the end of May. The campaign also reflects the heightened disagreement between factions of the administration that reject and support leaving the deal on global greenhouse gas emissions reductions.

Many scientists blame greenhouse gasses from burning fossil fuels for driving manmade climate change.

“The Paris climate treaty requires the United States to make drastic cuts in fossil fuel energy use by 2025, which will raise energy prices and slow economic recovery from our decade-long slump,” said Myron Ebell, who leads the free-market group’s environment program.

Ebell was Trump’s former head of transition for the Environmental Protection Agency. In recent weeks, he has criticized Trump for appearing to be giving way to “swamp creatures,” who are urging him not to leave the Paris Agreement.

On Tuesday, White House senior advisers, Cabinet members and their staffs will meet to see if they can form a consensus on whether to pull out of the deal. A cabal within the administration led by senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson favor remaining as signatories to the agreement.

Others, such as EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, who also will attend the meeting, is pushing the administration to leave the agreement.

Ebell warned that not withdrawing from the Paris accord would undercut Trump’s plans to undo former President Barack Obama’s climate change agenda by making Trump’s plans “vulnerable to legal challenges.” It would give environmental groups a perfect argument before the courts in persuading federal judges, and even the Supreme Court, to rule in favor of the climate rules because they underpin the climate deal, even though it is nonbinding, Ebell has argued.

Ebell reiterated the message of an online ad campaign that the group will be airing, urging President Trump not to listen to "Washington's Swamp, but rather keep his campaign promise to get the United States out of the Paris climate treaty and send it to the Senate for vote."

The ad will be used to gain signatures for an online petition that will be sent to Trump, urging him to withdraw from the Paris agreement.

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4) CEI: Staying In The Paris Climate Treaty Will Shackle Trump’s Energy Policy
Competitive Enterprise Institute, 17 April 2017
Christopher C. Horner and Marlo Lewis, Jr.

This week, White House senior advisers will meet to discuss the future of U.S. involvement in the Paris Climate Treaty. During campaign speeches, President Trump repeatedly promised the American public that if elected, he would cancel U.S. participation in the Paris Climate Agreement and stop all payments to United Nations global warming programs. Since the agreement was signed in December 2015, CEI has made the constitutional, political, economic, and moral case for why the United States should withdraw from it.

The Paris Climate Treaty casts a long shadow on America’s energy producers and job creators as it keeps in place a framework for promoting a regulatory assault on affordable energy and supporting the EPA as the nation’s unlawful climate legislator.

Withdrawing the United States from this treaty would put a stop to Obama’s attempted end-run around the constitutional treaty process, and ensure that elections, not U.N.-organized, political pressure campaigns, determine the direction of U.S. domestic economic and energy policy. If President Trump fails to do this, domestic and foreign opponents of Trump’s energy policies and possibly activist courts can continue to invoke this “international commitment,” and any future U.S. administration will have free rein to pick up where Obama left off. ​

President Obama negotiated the Paris Climate Agreement to confer a treaty-like status on his domestic climate policies—often called the “war on coal” but effectively a war on affordable energy—without actually going through the treaty process, an acknowledgement that all parties knew would doom such a pact. The ultimate aim of the agreement is to make coal, oil, and natural gas increasingly uneconomical to produce, export, and consume. Remaining a party to the Agreement thus endangers the energy price edge underpinning the U.S. manufacturing renaissance President Trump seeks to launch.

Even when Democrats held the majority in Congress, President Obama knew any proposal to adopt new international climate commitments would be dead on arrival. To avoid the Senate’s constitutional role to “advise and consent” on treaties, Obama simply claimed the agreement was not a treaty. This end run around the constitutional treaty process is unlawful and reason enough to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. Failure to reverse this move, as candidate Trump promised, will entrench a constitutionally damaging precedent, encouraging future executives to avoid constitutional review of unpopular treaties just by deeming them to be non-treaties.

Above and beyond the unconstitutional manner of its adoption, the Paris Climate Treaty is inherently toxic to American institutions of self-government. The agreement provides a framework for a global, political pressure machine to exist for decades. The agreement is designed to gin up diplomatic and political “blowback” not once—as would happen if Trump withdraws—but incessantly. The Agreement is designed to organize political protest and diplomatic pressure any time U.S. policymakers fail to keep Obama’s “commitments” to de-carbonize the U.S. economy, pony up billions in “climate aid” for developing countries, and make increasingly “ambitious” emission reduction promises every five years, in perpetuity.

Failure to withdraw also invites climate policy litigation, because joining the Paris Agreement tacitly affirms the preferred narrative that climate change is humanity’s greatest peril and “inaction” threatens millions of lives. A Dutch court in The Hague recently ruled that these so-called “non-binding” climate pacts are no such thing but instead affirm an obligation to impose regulations consistent with their assertions of responsibility to do so. It likely will not be the last to engage in such activism, from which we have no guarantee we are immune.

Three “arguments” have been reported in recent weeks as being preferred among White House and administration staff, none of which make any sense. Each argument represents no more than an effort to rationalize breaking President Trump's campaign promise and stay in the Paris Climate Treaty:

Avoid “diplomatic blowback” – Except that the Paris agreement actually builds this in as its “naming and shaming” means of obtaining U.S. submission every five years.

The Trump administration can just adjust our (first) promised emission reductions – This undermines the concurrent pro-Paris talking point that the United States can just ignore its promise because it's “voluntary.” The Paris agreement is no more or less enforceable or voluntary than the Kyoto treaty.

Membership in the Paris treaty offers an opportunity to argue for more carbon capture and storage (CCS) funding – this suggests we should sign the death warrant for the U.S. treaty process in exchange for the prospect of seeking a new subsidy or special interest scheme.

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5) Coal’s Colossal Comeback
The American Spectator, 17 April 2017
Stephen Moore

Buried in an otherwise humdrum jobs report for March was the jaw-dropping pronouncement by the Labor Department that mining jobs in America were up by 11,000 in March. Since the low point in October 2016 and following years of painful layoffs in the mining industry, the mining sector has added 35,000 jobs.
 

Image result for President Trump Coal miners
What a turnaround. ‎It comes at a time when liberals have been saying that Donald Trump has been lying to the American people when he has said that he can bring coal jobs back. Well, so far he has brought them back.

There’s more good news for the coal industry. Earlier this month, Peabody Coal — America’s largest coal producer — moved out of bankruptcy, and its stock is actively trading again. Its market cap had sunk by almost 90 percent, during the Obama years. Arch Coal is also out of bankruptcy.

It turns out that elections do have consequences, after all. Regime change in Washington has brought King Coal back to life since late 2016 when coal production had fallen by almost half from its peak. The Obama administration and its allies like the Sierra Club tried to kill coal, because of their hyper-obsession with global warming. The Trump administration pledged to coal miners in small towns across America in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming that he would be a friend to American coal and fossil fuels.

As promised, Trump has lifted the so-called Clean Power Plant regulations and several other EPA rules that were intentionally designed to kill coal jobs (and thousands more in related industries like trucking and steel) and shutter coal plants, which they accomplished with ruthless precision. Hillary had promised her green allies that she would finish off every last coal mining job in America.

The coal miners weren’t too happy about this, and her arrogant disregard for a leading American industry that hires tens of thousands of union workers contributed to her losses in almost all the coal states — many of which were once reliably ‎Democratic.

America was built on cheap and abundant coal. Fossil fuels powered the U.S. into the industrial age and replaced inefficient windmills and woodburning as the primary sources of electricity. America currently has access to 500 years’ worth of coal — far more than any other nation. Even despite the last decade’s war on coal during the Obama years, the U.S. still derives about one third of our power from coal — second only to natural gas.

Coal is indispensable today, even if renewable “green” energy starts to catch on, because wind and solar power are only viable with coal burning power plants as a backup for when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine. Without coal, green energy means rolling blackouts across America.

Liberals have argued that coal could never make a comeback because of cheap natural gas. Clearly, the shale gas revolution with prices falling from $10 to $3 per million cubic feet has hurt coal producers.

But economic necessity is the mother of invention, and coal companies like Peabody have figured out how to become far more efficient in their production. What’s more, clean coal is here. Emissions from coal plants of lead, sulfur, carbon monoxide, and other air pollutants have fallen by more than half and, in some cases, by 90 percent in recent decades.

The climate change industrial complex pontificates that the U.S. has to stop using coal to save the planet. But even if the U.S. cut our own coal production to zero, China and India are building hundreds of coal plants. ‎By not suspending American coal production, we are merely transferring jobs from the U.S. Do liberals care more about jobs in India and China than in America?

Renewable energy is at best one or two decades away from being a major energy source for the world, so until that happens, coal and natural gas will compete as low-priced and super-abundant, domestically produced energy sources for 21st century America. Nuclear power will hopefully continue to play an important role, too. Meanwhile, for all the talk of the increase in wind and solar industries, they still account for less than 5 percent of our energy. Almost 70 percent comes from natural gas and coal.

Coal isn’t dead in America. It is unleashed. As a Washington Times editorial put it very well recently, “The left gave up on the 100,000 coal workers in America more than a decade ago. Donald Trump has not.” Remember this the next time Elizabeth Warren or Nancy Pelosi lecture us about how much they care about the working class in America.

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6) Reality Check: China Gas Output Rises To Record Levels As Coal Production Rebounds
Bloomberg, 17 April 2017

China’s natural gas production surged to a record last month and coal output rebounded as economic growth accelerated power use in the world’s largest energy user.

Natural gas production in March rose 8.2 percent from the average of the first two months of the year to a record 13.6 billion cubic meters, according to data Monday from the National Bureau of Statistics. Coal output rose almost 13 percent over the same period to average 9.67 million tons a day, the highest daily level since December, according to Bloomberg calculations based on the data.
 



The nation’s economy accelerated for a second-straight quarter as investment picked up and factory output accelerated in March. China’s power output last month increased 7.2 percent from a year ago, the fastest pace since October, Monday’s today showed.

“China’s fundamental demand for coal and natural gas has improved alongside better-than-expected economic growth in the first quarter,” Tian Miao, an analyst at North Square Blue Oak Ltd. in Beijing, said by phone. “The government’s investment in infrastructure has boosted power consumption while the move to replace coal with gas to fight pollution is also gaining some traction for gas demand.”

Government-enforced coal mining limits last year cut production by 9.4 percent, which nearly caused prices to double. Most coal miners will be exempt from limits this year as long as prices stay within a “reasonable range,” the National Development and Reform Commission said last month, referring to a domestic price level above 500 yuan a ton.

Full story

7) And Finally: ‘Global Warming Drought’ Over As Northern California Sees Wettest Year On Record
Associated Press, 15 April 2017

It is now the wettest year on record in the Northern California mountains, National Weather Service officials said Thursday.
 
 
An index of precipitation at eight sensors showed that just under 90 inches of rain and snow have fallen this winter in the northern Sierra Nevada.

The previous record of 88.5 inches was set in the winter of 1982-1983. The average for the region is 50 inches a year, according to the state Department of Water Resources.
 
The record was surpassed less than a week after Gov. Jerry Brown officially declared an end to California’s drought emergency — a largely symbolic pronouncement that left in place some water-conservation rules for the 40 million residents of the nation’s most populous state.

More snow and rain is likely to pad the record before the wet season ends.

A winter weather advisory was in effect for the northern Sierra for much of Thursday with forecasts for moderate to heavy snow along with rain at lower elevations. More storms were forecast for next week.

The measurements were taken from sensors spread from Mount Shasta near the Oregon border to Pacific House between Sacramento and South Lake Tahoe.

Winter storms have blanketed mountains in snow, flooded urban areas and caused damage that could top $1 billion.

The weather also taxed reservoirs, dams and levees designed to control floods and capture winter rain and snow for agriculture and drinking water throughout the state.

The five sensors that make up the San Joaquin region have recorded 68.2 inches of rain — almost double the average for this time of year and roughly on pace with the 1983 record of 77.4 inches, according to the Water Resources Department.

Full story

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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