U.S. makes it of­fi­cial in Paris deal with­drawal

Pruitt tells G-7 U.S. will find own path

The Washington Times Daily - - WORLD - BY BEN­JAMIN WOLF­GANG

Two weeks af­ter Pres­i­dent Trump an­nounced the U.S. would with­draw from the Paris cli­mate ac­cord, the ad­min­is­tra­tion on Mon­day took its first con­crete step to­ward that end by for­mally re­ject­ing the agree­ment on the world stage.

At a meet­ing in Italy, en­vi­ron­ment min­is­ters from G-7 na­tions re­leased a lengthy com­mu­nique on cli­mate change, and the doc­u­ment in­cluded com­mit­ments from each coun­try to meet their emis­sions-re­duc­tion pledges un­der the Paris deal. Un­der Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, the U.S. ini­tially promised to cut green­house gas pol­lu­tion by at least 26 per­cent by 2025, but Mr. Trump said ear­lier this month that the na­tion will no longer pur­sue that goal.

In­stead, En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency Ad­min­is­tra­tor Scott Pruitt told his in­ter­na­tional col­leagues that the U.S. will fol­low its own path out­side the ac­cord to cut emis­sions and pro­mote green tech­nol­ogy. In an addendum to the for­mal G-7 cli­mate pa­per, Mr. Pruitt dis­missed both the Paris cli­mate deal it­self and the con­cept of Mul­ti­lat­eral De­vel­op­ment Banks (MDBs), in­ter­na­tional bod­ies through which de­vel­oped coun­tries fun­nel money to poorer na­tions to help them cut their pol­lu­tion.

“The United States will con­tinue to en­gage with key in­ter­na­tional part­ners in a man­ner that is con­sis­tent with our do­mes­tic pri­or­i­ties, pre­serv­ing both a strong econ­omy and a healthy en­vi­ron­ment,” the U.S. said in its state­ment, which was in­cluded as a foot­note in the broader cli­mate change com­mu­nique. “Ac­cord­ingly, we the United States do not join those sec­tions of the com­mu­nique on cli­mate and MDBs, re­flect­ing our re­cent an­nounce­ment to with­draw and im­me­di­ately cease im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Paris Agree­ment and as­so­ci­ated fi­nan­cial com­mit­ments.”

Mr. Pruitt spent just a por­tion of the day at the sum­mit, leav­ing be­fore it ended to re­turn to Wash­ing­ton for Mr. Trump’s first full Cab­i­net meet­ing Mon­day morn­ing.

While it will take years to com­pletely with­draw from the deal, Mon­day’s state­ment is the first tan­gi­ble sign — other than Mr. Trump’s Rose Gar­den an­nounce­ment two weeks ago — to the rest of the world that the ad­min­is­tra­tion is se­ri­ous about with­drawal.

The other G-7 na­tions dou­bled down on their sup­port for the ac­cord, say­ing in a com­mu­nique that it re­mains “the pri­mary global in­stru­ment for ef­fec­tively and ur­gently tack­ling cli­mate change and adapting to its ef­fect.”

“We wel­come the con­tin­ued sup­port that the Paris Agree­ment has re­ceived from other coun­tries, and sub­na­tional and non-state ac­tors around the world,” said min­is­ters rep­re­sent­ing France, Bri­tain, Ja­pan, Canada, Italy, Ger­many and the Euro­pean Union.

Other world lead­ers have re­acted an­grily to Mr. Trump’s de­ci­sion and have said the U.S. will not be wel­comed back into in­ter­na­tional cli­mate dis­cus­sions. The pres­i­dent said he’s open to rene­go­ti­at­ing the Paris deal, but only if he can se­cure more fa­vor­able terms for Amer­ica.

Mean­while, Mr. Pruitt re­jected the idea that the Paris agree­ment is the only way for­ward.

“The United States will con­tinue to show lead­er­ship by of­fer­ing ac­tion-ori­ented solutions to the world’s en­vi­ron­men­tal chal­lenges,” he said in a state­ment af­ter re­turn­ing home. “We have in­di­cated a will­ing­ness to en­gage on an in­ter­na­tional stage that stands to greatly ben­e­fit from Amer­i­can in­ge­nu­ity, in­no­va­tion and ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies. We have al­ready demon­strated sig­nif­i­cant progress to­wards mit­i­gat­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal prob­lems and we will con­tinue to de­velop th­ese for the ben­e­fit of all na­tions.”

By leav­ing the deal, some spe­cial­ists say that the main risk to the U.S. in the years to come is that its chief eco­nomic ri­val, China, could be in a bet­ter po­si­tion to dom­i­nate the flour­ish­ing world of clean en­ergy.

“As the U.S. with­drew from the Paris agree­ment, China has stepped up to play a proac­tive role in global cli­mate diplo­macy. This should give Bei­jing an op­por­tu­nity to ad­vance a China-driven agenda in mul­ti­lat­eral ne­go­ti­a­tions over global cli­mate gover­nance, and to grow its own green en­ergy in­dus­try,” said Joseph Tse-Hei Lee, co-di­rec­tor of the Global Asia Stud­ies pro­gram at Pace Uni­ver­sity in New York.

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