To the list of issues dividing President Donald Trump’s fractious advisers, add Paris.
The battle over whether the United States should remain in the historic Paris climate change agreement of 2015 underscores how difficult it’s become for this White House to move forward on big policy initiatives. Whatever the reason for postponing a meeting Tuesday on the topic, Trump should use the pause to listen to his closest aides and to a growing list of energy industry officials who are saying the same thing: Stay in the pact.
The Par-exit faction is led by chief strategist Stephen Bannon and Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt. Those urging no break include daughter Ivanka Trump, son-in-law Jared Kushner, top economic adviser Gary Cohn and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the former chief executive of ExxonMobil. Trump should heed the latter group — not because it is the ascendant influence in his administration, but because it is right.
Tillerson cites the diplomatic repercussions of pulling out; other nations could become uncooperative on issues important to the U.S. Some experts envision countries retaliating with carbon tariffs on U.S. exports, setting off a trade war. Some major fossil-fuel players say they can be more competitive globally if the United States remains in the Paris agreement. It makes little sense to exit when electricity producers are abandoning emissions-heavy coal for economic reasons, and solar and wind power are taking root — the same reasons it makes little sense for Trump to try to roll back former President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, a departure that would make it more difficult to meet Paris’ goals.
Some conservatives suggest staying in the pact but easing Obama’s emissions pledges, or stopping promised payments to a fund to help poorer nations expand clean energy. Both would be mistakes. The Paris agreement is not perfect, and it might not be enough to stop global warming, but it’s an important first step the world has agreed to take.
Candidate Trump promised to “cancel” the Paris agreement. After the election, he said his mind was “open.” Good, because it’s time to cancel that campaign vow.