Donald Trump’s election as the next president of the United States has left liberal environmental activists and international climate bureaucrats reeling. Just one of the many examples of the widespread depression expressed by environmentalists appeared in a recent issue of the Washington Post in which Steven Mufson and Brady Dennis lamented, “Trump comes into office with a plan to toss out most of what President Obama achieved on energy and the environment.”
President Barack Obama seemed committed to prostrating America before the world for the nation’s alleged climate sins, punishing the United States for its success and economic ascendancy. He regularly put international treaties and non-treaty agreements ahead of the U.S. Constitution he swore to uphold and defend. He has attempted to saddle the country with crippling climate policies that would foster a great transfer of wealth from poor taxpayers and ratepayers in America to wealthy, politically connected green-energy business people and rich, corrupt politicians both in the United States and in developing countries on the other side of the world.
Obama’s climate policies caused significant pain: high unemployment in coal country; rising electric bills and diminished oil and gas production, royalties, and lease payments from federal lands. And despite all the problems associated with his climate change crusade, Obama’s own Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator, Gina McCarthy, testified before Congress in July 2015 these policies would do nothing to prevent warming or sea-level rise and acknowledged they were enacted to display the United States’ alleged international leadership on climate issues.
President-elect Trump pledges to put America’s interests, its workers, and fealty to the Constitution ahead of foreign or moneyed interests. Trump has called climate change a “hoax” and vowed to “cancel” the United States’ participation in the Paris climate agreement, which Obama promoted heavily as an essential part of the world’s fight against climate change. In addition, Trump has committed to scrapping the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, its signature effort to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, and he says he’ll review and possibly reverse EPA’s determination carbon dioxide is a pollutant endangering public and environmental health — the so-called “endangerment finding.”
Reversing the endangerment finding in and of itself would end the legal justification of a range of climate regulations. In the process, it would also end radical environmental activists’ ability to use the courts to impose climate policies on an unwilling public.
Before the election, Trump said he’d cut EPA’s budget dramatically and review all EPA regulations, eliminating many of them because “over-regulation presents one of the greatest barriers to entry into markets and one of the greatest costs to businesses that are trying to stay competitive.”
In his Contract with the American Voter, what Trump calls his “100-day action plan to Make America Great Again,” he pledges to “lift the restrictions on the production of $50 trillion dollars’ worth of job-producing American energy reserves, including shale, oil, natural gas, and clean coal” and to “lift the Obama-Clinton roadblocks and allow vital energy infrastructure projects, like the Keystone Pipeline, to move forward.” Trump also says he’ll “cancel billions in payments to U.N. climate change programs, and use the money to fix America’s water and environmental infrastructure.”
In 2015, Christiana Figueres, then-executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), admitted to reporters what many had long believed: The United Nations’ climate programs and climate agreements were not implemented to protect Earth from climate change; they were meant to give governments more power over the world economy.
“This is probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves, which is to intentionally transform the economic development model, for the first time in human history,” Figueres said, according to the Daily Caller.
If the United States, the largest donor to U.N. climate programs, stops funding them, Obama’s long-fought-for wealth-transfer scheme will collapse, since other countries aren’t clamoring to pick up the tab.
The Guardian reports international climate negotiators at the U.N. climate talks in Morocco say, “It would be a catastrophe if Trump acted on his pledge to withdraw the US from the deal, which took 20 years to negotiate, and to open up public land for coal, oil and gas extraction.”
Speaking to reporters at the Morocco climate talks — which was held in the exotic locale of Marrakesh, where 10,000 climate bureaucrats and radical activists spewed millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the air jetting in to meet in luxury to discuss how to end fossil-fuel use — Ségolène Royale, the French environment minister, said Trump could not easily withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement treaty.
“The Paris agreement prohibits any exit for a period of three years, plus a year-long notice period, so there will be four stable years,” said Royale, according to the Guardian.
On this point, Royale is whistling past a graveyard.
Trump can end America’s participation in the Paris climate agreement, either directly or indirectly, regardless of the text of the agreement. This is because it has not been ratified by the U.S. Senate, as required by the Constitution, which means it has no force of law in the United States. It’s also possible, because the treaty sets only voluntary goals without a legal enforcement mechanism; other countries have no legal way of enforcing the agreement’s terms on the United States.
If Trump chooses to respect the details of the invalid, unenforceable Paris treaty, he can still end the United States’ participation in it in just one year. Article 25 of the UNFCCC allows any state party to that convention to withdraw without further obligation of any kind upon giving one year’s notice. This is important because the Paris climate accord stipulates anyone who gives notice of secession from the UNFCCC secedes as a direct result from the Paris accord, as well.
Indirectly, Trump can scuttle America’s participation, by reversing Obama’s climate actions and not replacing them with alternative climate policies. If Trump does this, U.S. participation in the Paris climate agreement dies from neglect.