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Trump may pull US out of Paris agreement within two weeks

All over the US media today —  discussion over whether Trump will pull the US out of the Paris agreement. We all know the Paris agreement will not alter world temperature*, slow storms or stop floods but is potentially a trap for domestic legal action, it hurts the poor via high electricity bills, and reduces living standards (for those outside the $1.5 Trillion Green Industrial Complex). The free citizens around the world may score a big win soon. We hope.

*To put the impotence of Paris in perspective: if we use IPCC estimates, and all industrialized nations make a 100% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2100, we can only cool global temperatures by 0.35C — a third of one degree at most. That’s no oil, no gas, or coal, in a world powered by handmade nuclear reactors using mud bricks transported by horse and cart. 😉 And that assumes that the models are right despite them failing on regional, local, short term[1] [2], polar[3], major feedbacks [4] [5], humidity[6], rainfall[7], drought[8] and on clouds[9].

White House may pull out of Paris agreement due to legal implications

Timothy Cama, The Hill

Trump could announce as soon as next week his plans to pull out. The Huffington Post and New York Times reported on the developments earlier Tuesday.

Central to the administration’s debate is whether the U.S. could reduce its greenhouse gas-cutting commitment for the 2015 pact without running afoul of it.

The agreement states that a country “may at any time adjust its existing nationally determined contribution with a view to enhancing its level of ambition,” which sources say concerns the White House counsel’s office.

If Trump wanted to ratchet down former President Barack Obama’s promise of a 26 percent to 28 percent emissions cut by 2025, the agreement may prevent it.

The administration is also worried that staying in the accord would give environmentalists a legal argument to prevent Trump from repealing climate regulations like the Clean Power Plan.

Climate Deal Could Turn on a Single Phrase: 

John Swartz, NY Times

The provision at issue, Article 4.11, states that a nation “may at any time adjust its existing nationally determined contribution with a view to enhancing its level of ambition.”

Christopher C. Horner, a senior legal fellow at the Energy and Environment Legal Institute, said liberal state attorneys general and climate activists would inevitably sue over efforts to weaken the targets. “This will be most aggressive in the Ninth Circuit, which hopefully triggers some memories in the minds of administration lawyers,” he said, referring to the fight over the administration’s immigration plan, which has been stayed by the California-based federal appeals court.

“Despite the mad rush to insist that plain language means either the opposite of what it says, or else nothing at all, under any canon of construction, Article 4 does not permit revisions downward,” Mr. Horner said. “The language is deliberate and reads only one way: the way it was written and, as the context affirms, was plainly intended.”

The momentum has turned against the Paris agreement for Trump Whitehouse

Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post

Pruitt, who is spearheading the effort to rewrite several Obama-era rules aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions, has argued that exiting the agreement will make it easier to fend off the numerous legal lawsuits he will face in the months ahead.

At a rally with supporters Saturday, Trump said he would make a “big decision” on Paris within the next two weeks and vowed to end “a broken system of global plunder at American expense.”

Be very afraid — the big downside — “Pariah Status”:

“The Trump team seems oblivious to the fact that climate protection is now viewed by leading allies and nations around the world as a key measure of moral and diplomatic standing,” [Paul] Bledsoe said in an email. “The U.S. would be risking pariah status on the international stage by withdrawing from Paris, and even a fig leaf approach of technically staying in the agreement while ignoring most of its provisions would be better than pulling out altogether.”

Watch out. People might say things that are not nice about the USA.

The largest military power in the world and the second largest economy is hardly at risk of being “not included” or exiled from all the other decisions around the world that matter. As the largest contributor to the UN, if they did get excluded, the US would be freer. And if foreign aid was channeled direct instead of through a global bureaucracy, the poor may win too.


[1] Anagnostopoulos, G. G., D. Koutsoyiannis, A. Christofides, A. Efstratiadis, and N. Mamassis, (2010). A comparison of local and aggregated climate model outputs with observed data’, Hydrological Sciences Journal, 55: 7, 1094 — 1110 [PDF]

[2] Koutsoyiannis, D., Efstratiadis, A., Mamassis, N. & Christofides, A.(2008) On the credibility of  climate predictions. Hydrol. Sci. J. 53(4), 671–684. changes [PDF]

[3] Previdi, M. and Polvani, L. M. (2014), Climate system response to stratospheric ozone depletion and recovery. Q.J.R. Meteorol. Soc.. doi: 10.1002/qj.233

[4] Christy J.R., Herman, B., Pielke, Sr., R, 3, Klotzbach, P., McNide, R.T., Hnilo J.J., Spencer R.W., Chase, T. and Douglass, D: (2010) What Do Observational Datasets Say about Modeled Tropospheric Temperature Trends since 1979? Remote Sensing 2010, 2, 2148-2169; doi:10.3390/rs2092148 [PDF]

[5] Fu, Q, Manabe, S., and Johanson, C. (2011) On the warming in the tropical upper troposphere: Models vs observations, Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 38, L15704, doi:10.1029/2011GL048101, 2011 [PDF] [Discussion]

[6] Paltridge, G., Arking, A., Pook, M., 2009. Trends in middle- and upper-level tropospheric humidity from NCEP reanalysis data. Theoretical and Applied Climatology, Volume 98, Numbers 3-4, pp. 351-35). [PDF]

[7] See 10 Anagnostopolous 2010

[8] Sheffield, Wood & Roderick (2012) Little change in global drought over the past 60 years, Letter Nature, vol 491, 437

[9] Miller, M., Ghate, V., Zahn, R., (2012) The Radiation Budget of the West African Sahel 1 and its Controls: A Perspective from 2 Observations and Global Climate Models. in press Journal of Climate [abstract] [PDF]

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