President Trump is definitely going to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement, the head of his Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) transition team has confirmed.
At a press conference in London – the one where the media delegates’ heads all exploded – Myron Ebell told his appalled audience that Trump would certainly be honouring his campaign promise to pull out of the UN Paris agreement. The fact that incoming Secretary of State Rex Tillerson disagrees with this is, Ebell suggested, an irrelevance.
An apparent contradiction emerged in recent weeks between Trump’s position and that of his incoming secretary of state Rex Tillerson, who said the US will “remain part” of UN climate discussions. When asked about these contrasting positions, Ebell said it is impossible for him to predict the outcome, but “in a disagreement with the president, who do you think will win?”
Ebell outlined three major ways in which Trump can annul US participation in the Paris climate deal. In the first instance, the president can simply stop any US financial contributions to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). In any event, all US funding to the UNFCCC, including to the Green Climate Fund, represents a violation of US law ever since Palestine — which is not internationally recognised as a legitimate state — was accepted as a UNFCCC member, Ebell argued.
Trump can have the US Congress reject the Paris agreement on the basis that legally it is a treaty and does not qualify as an executive presidential order. He can also withdraw the US from the UNFCCC altogether, which according to Ebell would be “the cleanest way” as it would absolve the US from any commitments, financial or otherwise, under the UNFCCC and the Paris climate deal.
A full video of the conference – including an embarrassing late appearance by your correspondent – is available here.