Next White House Struggle: Whether to Exit the Paris Climate Agreement

Ending Obama's so-called "war on coal" may go international with the exit from the December 2015 Paris Climate Agreement if EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has his way, but he may encounter formidable opposition from Trump's administration and family.

3 minute read

April 18, 2017, 10:00 AM PDT

By Irvin Dawid

Washington D.C. - The White House

Stefan Fussan / Flickr

His objection is based on a misunderstanding of the agreement: China and India are already hard at work at meeting goals set for 2030."

Pruitt appears to be stuck in a time warp. His concerns might have made more sense if he had been referring to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which did not require developing nations such as China and India to face legally binding requirements to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

Both developed and developing nations agreed to reduce emissions, the difference is that "developed countries are expected to reduce actual emissions, while developing countries would lower emissions based on units tied to measures such as gross domestic product or economic output," explains Kessler. 

Ivanka and Jared

"Both the president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, and her husband, Jared Kushner, a White House special adviser, have urged the president to stay in the deal, along with Tillerson," reports Jennifer A. Dlouhy for Bloomberg News.

In December, Ivanka Trump, daughter of then President-elect Trump, arranged for former Vice President and climate change activist Al Gore to meet with her father. Two days after the meeting, Trump selected Scott Pruitt to be his EPA administrator.

Support for coal

President Trump has already vowed to put coal miners back to work when he signed an executive order last month that initiated the roll-back of the Clean Power Plan, the most significant rule that would help the U.S. meet the international accord's requirement to reduce its emissions by 26 to 28 percent below its 2005 levels by the year 2025. [Correspondent's note: this target may not remain much longer on the White House website. I thought all references to climate change had been removed.]

Exiting the Paris climate agreement would appear to be in-line with with other environmental regulation rollbacks that promote fossil fuels. On April 13, Brady Dennis reported that Pruitt had announced that the EPA would halt compliance with a rule that "limiting the dumping of toxic metals such as arsenic and mercury by the nation’s [coal] power plants into public waterways."

However, Trump might be surprised that in addition to ExxonMobil, two of America's largest energy companies support remaining in the agreement, and they are coal companies, adds Bloomberg's Dlouhy.

Coal producers Cloud Peak Energy Inc. and Peabody Energy Corp. also are lobbying in favor of the accord, even though the miners could be disadvantaged by a global shift toward cleaner sources of electricity. Cloud Peak pitches the Paris agreement as a platform for the U.S. to advocate using carbon capture and other high-efficiency, low-emissions technology to generate electricity from coal.

Friday, April 14, 2017 in The Washington Post - Energy and Environment

View of downtown Los Angeles at golden hour from top of grassy hill with wooden bench in Vista Hermosa Natural Park

Downtown Los Angeles Park Wins National Award

Vista Hermosa Natural Park, designed by the landscape architecture firm Studio-MLA, has won the ASLA 2023 Landmark Award. Completed in 2008, Vista Hermosa was the first public park built in downtown L.A. in over 100 years.

September 11, 2023 - ASLA The Dirt

View of small-town street with brick buildings and cars parked in diagonal parking with string lights going across street in Cleveland County, Oklahoma.

Norman, Oklahoma Eliminates Parking Mandates

The city made a subtle, one-word change that frees up developers to build parking based on actual need and eliminates costly unnecessary parking.

September 14, 2023 - Next City

Few passengers waiting in subway station with multiple platforms and "North Station" signs in Boston, Massachusetts

Boston Transit Riders Report Safety Concerns

Almost three-quarters of current and former riders report feeling unsafe while using MBTA services.

September 18, 2023 - Hoodline

Mosaic mural at Little Tokyo/Arts District transit station in downtown Los Angeles.

Prioritizing Equity in Federal Transit Funding

TransitCenter recommends several transit capital projects deserving of federal transportation dollars.

September 20 - TransitCenter

Close-up of top of California state capitol dome with U.S. and California flags flying and blue sky in background.

California Housing Bills Streamline Affordable Housing

A series of current and proposed bills are paving the way for more affordable housing production in the state, where environmental laws are often deployed to delay or block new development.

September 20 - CALmatters

Main Street in Bentonville, Arkansas with three-story brick buildings, people sitting at tables on sidewalk, and sign on building for "The Walmart Museum."

Growing Pains in Northwest Arkansas

Like other small communities suddenly made popular during the Covid-19 pandemic, the region is struggling to maange its explosive growth.

September 20 - Axios

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.