Paris climate treaty dead, killed by Trump bud­get

The Intelligencer (Belleville) - - OPINION - LORRIE GOLDSTEIN lgo­ld­stein@post­media.com

While Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau will never ad­mit it, the 2015 Paris climate treaty Canada signed with great fan­fare died last week.

It died be­cause of the re­lease of U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s 2018 bud­get plan.

While Trump has to get it through the U.S. Congress, which means parts of it are un­likely to sur­vive, his clear in­ten­tion to gut U.S. climate change pol­icy by dis­man­tling the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency spells the death knell for the Paris treaty.

Trump is propos­ing deeper cuts to the EPA than any other gov­ern­ment agency, re­duc­ing its $8.2 bil­lion bud­get by 31 per cent, lay­ing off 19 per cnet of its 15,000 staff and cut­ting 50 pro­grams.

That in­cludes fund­ing for for­mer pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s sig­na­ture climate change ini­tia­tive, the Climate Ac­tion Plan, to re­duce Amer­ica’s use of coal-fired elec­tric­ity.

Trump’s bud­get di­rec­tor, Mick Mul­vaney, made the pres­i­dent’s in­ten­tion crys­tal clear Thurs­day.

“Re­gard­ing the ques­tion of climate change ... We’re not spend­ing money on that any­more,” Mul­vaney said. “We con­sider that to be a waste of your money.”

That means the U.S., the world’s sec­ond-largest emit­ter of in­dus­trial green­house gases (China is first), has ef­fec­tively pulled out of the Paris treaty, re­gard­less of whether it for­mally with­draws.

As the leader of the de­vel­oped world, Amer­ica’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in the United Na­tions’ Paris treaty was vi­tal to its ef­fec­tive­ness.

That’s why the UN aban­doned its pre­vi­ous com­mit­ment to bind­ing emis­sion re­duc­tion tar­gets in Paris — to get the U.S., then un­der Obama, on board.

A treaty with bind­ing tar­gets would have re­quired Obama to get the deal ap­proved by the U.S. Se­nate, im­pos­si­ble given its Repub­li­can ma­jor­ity.

At Obama’s be­hest, the Paris treaty was de­signed so he could in­tro­duce his Climate Ac­tion Plan through EPA reg­u­la­tions, rather than leg­is­la­tion.

Ex­cept that Trump — who has said in the past he con­sid­ers man-made climate change a hoax by China to dam­age U.S. in­dus­try — is not only propos­ing to gut the EPA but has also ap­pointed Scott Pruitt to run it.

Pruitt, the for­mer at­tor­ney gen­eral of Ok­la­homa, an oil-pro­duc­ing state, sued the EPA in that ca­pac­ity a dozen times be­fore Trump in­stalled him as its ad­min­is­tra­tor.

The Paris treaty was al­ways doomed to fail be­cause it did not take into ac­count that govern­ments, at least demo­cratic ones, op­er­ate in four- or five-year elec­tion cy­cles, not the 30-, 40-, 50- or 80-year time spans en­vi­sioned by the treaty.

Log­i­cally, the UN, hav­ing boasted that get­ting the U.S. to sign the 2015 Paris treaty (after it de­clined to sign the Ky­oto climate ac­cord) was the key to its suc­cess, can­not now cred­i­bly ar­gue Trump’s ef­fec­tive with­drawal doesn’t kill it.

As for Canada, Trudeau — now im­pos­ing a na­tional car­bon pric­ing plan — will never ac­knowl­edge that the Paris treaty is dead, with Climate Change Min­is­ter Cather­ine McKenna al­ready talk­ing about Canada part­ner­ing with China. But let’s not kid the troops. With Trump’s moves last week, the Paris climate treaty is as dead as the dead par­rot in Monty Python’s fa­mous skit of the same name.

We’re not spend­ing money on that any­more. We con­sider that to be a waste of your money.” U.S. bud­get di­rec­tor Mick Mul­vaney

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