After decades of stymied progress and nine years of targeted diplomatic efforts, on December 12, 2015, 195 countries signed a landmark agreement to lower global greenhouse gas emissions in an attempt to protect the planet from the worst impacts of climate change. A little over a year later, a drooling conspiracy theorist and his white supremacist babysitter are on track to cripple this progress in the name of breathtaking greed and stupidity.
The New York Times reports that the White House is “fiercely divided” over whether to adhere to Trump’s campaign promise to “cancel” the Paris Climate Agreement, with officials telling the Times that senior advisor Steve Bannon is pitted against Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Ivanka Trump, who are arguing against pulling the U.S. out of the accord. Tillerson, however, runs an agency that the Trump administration seems to view as unnecessary, and Ivanka Trump has no official role in the administration, while Bannon is arguably Trump’s most influential advisor. In January, EPA transition team head Myron Ebell told reporters that “Trump has made it clear he will withdraw from the Paris Agreement.”
Ebell, Trump’s EPA pick Scott Pruitt, and a number of other staffers and advisors on the Trump EPA transition team—Thomas J. Pyle, David Schnare, and David Kreutzer, to name a few—are all affiliated with groups supported by Koch Industries, which has worked for decades to generate political opposition against environmental regulations that threaten their bottom line.
From the Times:
While the president cannot, as Mr. Trump suggested, unilaterally undo a 194-nation accord that has already been legally ratified, he could initiate the four-year process to withdraw the world’s largest economy and second-largest climate polluter from the first worldwide deal to tackle global warming. Such a move would rend a global deal that has been hailed as historic, throwing into question the fate of global climate policy and, diplomats say, the credibility of the United States.
President Obama pledged to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent by 2025, a mark that, according to researchers, we were already potentially going to miss by nearly a billion metric tons of greenhouse gases. The Trump administration, I probably don’t need to remind you, is considering cutting the EPA staff by one-fifth, eliminating thousands of jobs and dozens of programs, particularly those related to climate change—but also cleanup projects and air and water pollution programs. Trump also recently signed an executive order aimed at rolling back Obama’s Clean Water Rule, which he described as “horrible, horrible.”
The Times reports that one option on the table is to make Congress do the Trump administration’s dirty work by declaring the Paris Agreement a treaty that requires ratification. Obama didn’t do this because our Republican-controlled Congress would absolutely not vote to ratify—and considering Mitch McConnell wouldn’t recognize a responsible decision if it stabbed him repeatedly in the gullet, it seems likely that no matter what happens, the only people who will benefit from the Trump administration’s environmental policies are the energy industry billionaires with enough cash to shoot themselves out into space once the planet they’ve ruined is no longer inhabitable.