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Trump Administration May Not Find Middle Ground on Paris Climate Deal

Jack Fitzpatrick, Morning Consult

As the Trump administration debates whether to stay in the Paris climate agreement, observers are skeptical that opposing wings of the administration will reach a middle ground.



President Donald Trump’s top advisers are expected to meet Tuesday to discuss whether the U.S. should remain in the agreement, Politico reported. The White House did not confirm on Monday that the meeting would happen.

Trump has been critical of the Paris deal’s potential effect on the U.S. economy, and told Reuters during last year’s presidential campaign that he may “renegotiate” the deal. But it seems unlikely that the debate could lead to a compromise in which the U.S. stays in the Paris agreement while reducing its commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Michael McKenna, an energy lobbyist who led the Department of Energy’s transition team, said the text of the deal does not allow countries to reduce their commitments, and anything but a full-fledged withdrawal would undermine Trump’s focus on rolling back environmental regulations.

The agreement’s text specifically allows a country to adjust its greenhouse gas targets if it is “enhancing its level of ambition,” but not to reduce promises.

“There’s no way to square this circle,” said McKenna, who supports a full-fledged exit from the Paris agreement. “The president is going to have to decide, you’re in or you’re out.”

Trump’s efforts to roll back other environmental regulations, including the Clean Power Plan and auto-emissions standards, are “window dressing” if the administration maintains its promises under the Paris agreement, McKenna said in a phone interview on Monday.

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