A decision is supposed to come this week on whether the United States will remain in the Paris climate change deal. We’ll see. Other deadlines for the decision presented by President Donald Trump’s administration have passed without any action.
Whenever this pivotal decision is made, our take on the issue has been constant and clear: Stay in Paris.
After his trip overseas, during which European leaders lobbied him intensely, Trump now understands that most of the world wants the nation to remain in the pact. He also knows that many major U.S. corporations, including many fossil-fuel players, are urging him to stay.
But his closest staff is riven, and last week 22 Republican senators wrote to Trump imploring him to exit Paris. Their rationale: Remaining in the climate change deal would make it more difficult to unwind former President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, in effect arguing for a despicable daily double of more pollution and a hotter planet. The senators, a minority of GOP members, mostly represent states with a big fossil-fuel presence — but most major oil companies want to stay in the agreement. Most notable is Exxon Mobil Corp., whose former chief executive is Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Exxon Mobil is being investigated by the Securites and Exchange Commission for possibly misleading shareholders about climate change, but it recently wrote Trump that remaining in Paris would ensure a level playing field for American companies so “global energy markets remain as free and competitive as possible.”
That’s important because Trump says he’ll base his decision on protecting U.S. companies, not the environment. That’s wrongheaded; our environment is critical. But even many of the businesses Trump wants to protect say leaving Paris would harm them. Many experts don’t think Obama’s pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at least 26 percent by 2025 from 2005 levels will hurt U.S. companies. And the emissions-heavy coal industry, which Trump wants to save, is in decline because of economic reasons, even as solar and wind are gaining, also for economic reasons.
There are many faux reasons to exit Paris, and many real ones to remain. Trump needs to keep this one real. — The editorial board