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Paris Treaty: Big Businesses Tell Trump to Stay in, Free-Market Groups Say Get Out

Theresa Smith
By Theresa Smith | June 1, 2017 | 1:14 PM EDT

Trump to announce decision on Paris treaty.

The opinion of some of America’s largest companies is at odds with free-market organizations over President Trump’s eagerly-awaited decision on the Paris Agreement on climate regulations.

Twenty-four CEOs of large companies sent a letter to President Trump yesterday urging him to “keep the United States in the Paris Agreement.” However, forty-four free-market organizations, such as the Heritage Foundation, the Eagle Forum, and the Competitive Enterprise Institute encouraged the president’s withdrawal in a letter sent on May 8:

“We, undersigned, write in enthusiastic support of your campaign commitments to withdraw fully from the Paris Climate Treaty and to stop all taxpayer funding of UN global warming programs.”

The big-business CEOs told the president that remaining in the Paris Agreement would support U. S. competition, grow the job market from clean energy technology, and reduce the risk of infrastructure damage from climate change. 

On the other hand, the free-market organizations agreed with Trump when he campaigned that the Paris Agreement did not fit the vision for the U. S.:

“[We] agree that the treaty is not in the interest of the American people and the U. S. should therefore not be a party to it.”

The letter explained that the standards set up by the Obama administration set the bar too high for the U. S. and her industries. By 2020, America must “reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17% below 2005 levels” and reduce emissions “to 28% below 2005 levels by 2025,” said the free-market organizations. These regulations pile on top of the other requirements of the Paris Agreement.

To meet these standards, the Obama administration set up several burdensome policies including rules for greenhouse gas emission for power plants, transportation, and other industries, said the free-market organizations. The letter referenced the “Clean Power” Plan and the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards.

This letter indicated that abolition of Obama’s Clean Power Plan would be difficult, if not impossible, to accomplish without withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. It said that Environmental pressure groups and state attorneys general are prepared to “block withdrawal of the ‘Clean Power’ Plan and other greenhouse gas rules” because they argue it cannot be done with the Paris Agreement in place.

“Failing to withdraw from Paris thus exposes key parts of your deregulatory energy agenda to unnecessary legal risk,” said the forty-four organizations.

Reducing the standards is not an option, according to the letter. It cited Article 4 Section 11 of the Agreement: “Section 11 states: ‘A Party may at any time adjust its existing nationally determined contribution with a view to enhancing its level of ambition’ (emphasis added).”

It also pointed out that the Paris Agreement standards increase every five years.

The free-market letter listed three options for the president to withdraw from the agreement, the first two options being preferred:

  1. Acknowledge the Senate’s constitutional authority to ratify treaties, and submit the Paris Agreement to the Senate and recommend “that the treaty not be ratified.”
  2. Withdraw from the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
  3. Simply withdraw from the Paris Agreement.

The letter said, “Of the three options listed... we think the first two are preferable to the third.”

Both letters conclude by claiming their course of action will benefit American interests and prosperity.