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Walking Dead: Paris Climate Deal Died Last Week

Lorrie Goldstein, Toronto Sun

While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will never admit it, the 2015 Paris climate treaty Canada signed with great fanfare died last week. It died because of the release of U.S. President Donald Trump’s 2018 budget plan.

While Trump has to get it through the U.S. Congress, which means parts of it are unlikely to survive, his clear intention to gut U.S. climate change policy by dismantling the Environmental Protection Agency spells the death knell for the Paris treaty.

Trump is proposing deeper cuts to the EPA than any other government agency, reducing its $8.2 billion budget by 31%, laying off 19% of its 15,000 staff and cutting 50 programs.

That includes funding for Barack Obama’s signature climate change initiative, his Climate Action Plan, to reduce America’s use of coal-fired electricity.

Trump’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, made the president’s intention crystal clear Thursday.

“Regarding the question of climate change … We’re not spending money on that anymore,” Mulvaney said. “We consider that to be a waste of your money … ”

That means the U.S., the world’s second-largest emitter of industrial greenhouse gases (China’s first), has effectively pulled out of the Paris treaty, regardless of whether it formally withdraws.

As the leader of the developed world, America’s participation in the Paris treaty was vital to the United Nations’ Paris treaty.

That’s why the UN abandoned its previous commitment to binding emission reduction targets in Paris, to get the U.S., then under Obama, on board.

A treaty with binding targets would have required Obama to get the deal approved by the U.S. Senate, impossible given its Republican majority.

At Obama’s behest, the Paris treaty was designed so he could introduce his Climate Action Plan through EPA regulations, rather than legislation.

Except that Trump, who has said in the past he considers man-made climate change a hoax by China to damage U.S. industry, is not only proposing to gut the EPA but has appointed Scott Pruitt to run it.

Pruitt, the former attorney general of Oklahoma, an oil-producing state, sued the EPA in that capacity a dozen times before Trump installed him as its administrator.

The Paris treaty was always doomed to fail because it did not take into account that governments, at least democratic ones, operate in four or five year election cycles, not the 30, 40, 50 or 80-year time spans envisioned by the treaty. […]

With Trump’s moves last week, the Paris climate treaty is as dead as the “Dead Parrot” in Monty Python’s famous skit of the same name.

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