[This is a nuanced and thoughtful proposal from Rep. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota:
“I was wary of Paris and used to favor pulling out, but I’ve changed my mind for two reasons. First, in future climate talks the U.S. will benefit from having Mr. Trump, an experienced negotiator, at the table. Second, the Trump administration can legally scrap President Obama’s emission-reduction pledge without leaving the Paris agreement.”
If the US has learned anything by now, it is: “If you aren’t at the table, you are the menu.” Actually, we might be on the menu even if the US is at the table, especially in the UN.
Given China’s total lack of credibility–since Mao at least, how can the Paris Agreement members, the United Nations, the United States, the international media, the international financial markets, and especially the Chinese people take anything said by the Chinese Government seriously?
If one accepts the untrustworthiness of China, then Rep. Cramers’ proposal makes geo-political sense. To quote the legendary basketball coach John Wooden, “If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over.” Steve]
A place at the table would let Trump counter Chinese predation and European unrealism.
By Kevin Cramer
Updated May 7, 2017 4:25 p.m. ET
President Trump will soon decide whether to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement on climate change. His top advisers are huddling Tuesday, likely for a final time, to consider the decision, which has been promised by the end of the month. I endorsed Mr. Trump last April because I believed in his America First agenda, and I advised him on energy policies during the campaign.
I was wary of Paris and used to favor pulling out, but I’ve changed my mind for two reasons. First, in future climate talks the U.S. will benefit from having Mr. Trump, an experienced negotiator, at the table. Second, the Trump administration can legally scrap President Obama’s emission-reduction pledge without leaving the Paris agreement.
It is abundantly clear that the agreement, which is and will remain legally nonbinding, does not prohibit lowering the American pledge. In a May 1 memo, Sierra Club lawyer Steve Herz wrote that “it would be extremely difficult to prevail” in any lawsuit arguing that the U.S. was bound by its pledge, or by the agreement itself.
Thus any renegotiation would be the easiest deal Mr. Trump has ever made: He would simply submit a new pledge. Then if somehow the U.S. was blocked from changing its commitment, Washington could simply leave the Paris agreement that same day.
Regardless, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt would be able to rescind the woefully constructed Clean Power Plan and other harmful Obama-era regulations, since they all preceded the climate deal reached in Paris in December 2015. Those regulations and the Paris agreement are legally unrelated.
There has been spirited debate among House Republicans on the best move to make. Several of my colleagues on the House Energy and Commerce Committee—including conservatives from energy-rich states such as Oklahoma, Missouri and Pennsylvania—agree that the smart strategy is to try to work out a more beneficial deal for the U.S. under the Paris agreement rather than walk away and let China and others take over the discussions. Eight of my fellow Republicans joined me in signing a letter to President Trump laying out specific conditions that would turn Paris into a good deal:
First, revise the U.S. pledge so it doesn’t harm the economy and comes to reflect America First energy policies.
Second, cease Washington’s transfers to the Green Climate Fund, and ensure the existing money isn’t spent on wasteful projects.
Third, negotiate through the Paris Agreement to defend American interests, particularly by advancing technology for clean coal and pushing for increased investment and a better regulatory environment—all of which will create more foreign markets for American clean coal technology.
Mr. Obama’s Paris pledge was a bad deal, as Mr. Trump explained forcefully during the campaign. But the situation has changed. The new White House can replace those harmful policies with an America First energy vision, and a Paris pledge and negotiations that reflect it.
What could Paris become with President Trump and his negotiators at the table? Energy Secretary Rick Perry has already aggressively touted the virtues of nuclear and clean coal at a recent Group of Seven energy meeting. That view faces stiff opposition from some of America’s allies in Europe, who will work hard to promote a radical and unrealistic all-renewables vision for global energy policy. The U.S. needs to take them on in every available forum, Paris included.
Since Paris went into force, many nations in Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean have built clean coal plans into their Paris pledges. The White House can build on these pragmatic approaches, using Paris to help the U.S. energy industry and American workers. If Washington were to up and leave, Beijing would fill the leadership vacuum. It isn’t wise to cede that ground.
Neither America nor the world can afford a European energy future, with skyrocketing prices, or a Chinese energy future, with bureaucratic control and unfair dumping of state-subsidized resources.
If Mr. Trump can fix Paris, it will be an example of the emerging Trump Doctrine. He would manage to get international credit for staying in the talks and ensuring they aren’t led by China, while at the same time protecting America’s economy.
Voters elected Donald Trump because they trusted him to drive hard bargains and help America start winning again. I trust that President Trump can negotiate the Paris Agreement into a good deal and deliver yet another win—for North Dakotans and American workers everywhere.
Mr. Cramer, a Republican, represents North Dakota in the U.S. House.