By Kellen Bulger
On Thursday, Donald Trump’s newly appointed head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, made an appearance on Fox & Friends where he called for an “exit” from the historic Paris Agreement. The Paris Agreement, signed by 192 states around the world and 175 states on the first day, has only not been signed by three states worldwide. This makes it the largest international agreement in modern history, and one that the U.S. might not be a part of.
When the Paris Agreement was signed by former President Obama on April 22, 2015 in New York City, the agreement came with three main goals in mind. These goals were to hold the global temperature increase to well below two degrees Celsius, lower greenhouse gas emissions in a manner that does not threaten food production and making finance flows consistent with green and sustainable development. All things that Mr. Pruitt deems a “bad deal” despite the United States being the second largest contributor of greenhouse gases worldwide.
Pruitt, while on Fox & Friends Thursday, did not merely regurgitate this stance. When referring to the Paris Agreement, he went on to tell co-host Brian Kilmeade, “It was an America second, third, or fourth kind of approach. China and India had no obligations under the agreement until 2030.”
For a variety of reasons Pruitt’s position and remarks on the Paris Agreement are problematic. To specify however, many listeners on Thursday are left scratching their heads as the United States head of the E.P.A. uttered false claims. In signing the Paris Agreement in 2015, China agreed to cut its carbon emissions from what their 2005 measures were by 60 to 65 percent per each unit of GDP by 2030. Continually, India agreed to cut its carbon emissions from their 2005 measures by 33 to 35 percent by the year 2030.
In spite of Pruitt’s false claims on national television last week, looking at the issue objectively; Pruitt’s claims suggest that he believes the United States should have further negotiations on international agreements, like the Paris Agreement, when it comes to reducing our environmental impact. However, yet again this logistical conclusion seems difficult to take for truth when we are talking of a man who sued the same institution he is leading 13 times.
While Trump supporters may cheer the news of a want to exit the Paris Agreement and environmentalists may audibly gasp at the news, the truth is, The United States cannot simply “exit” the agreement.
To effectively not be a remaining member of this agreement, it takes three years under the agreement’s terms for a signed on state to withdraw and then there is a one year waiting period. This makes it so by the time any change would come to fruition President Trump’s time in office could be up. Additionally, even if President Trump wanted to get this exiting process underway, Press Secretary Sean Spicer said in a White House press briefing on March 30 that the current administration will address the Paris Agreement, “by the time of the G7 Summit, late May-ish, if not sooner.”
So, in spite of President Trump’s waiving of executive orders, effectively dismantling many of former President Obama’s environmental regulations, it is proving that in spite of the power that his pen holds or the assured attitude that his administration holds, sweeping policy changes are, in the words of President Trump, “… an unbelievably complex subject.”