A Seat at the Table

In the course of his Presidential campaign, Donald Trump promised he would rip up the Paris Accord on climate change. Since his election he has stated that he has an open mind on the US involvement in this Agreement.

In his Senate confirmation hearings, Rex Tillerson, former CEO of Exxon Mobil and Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State, stated that it was preferable for the US to “have a seat at the table” rather than withdraw completely.

If Trump takes this approach, can he keep open the option to withdraw at a later stage?

The answer is yes. The Accord includes provisions for any party to give a year’s notice of its intention to withdraw.

The Advantages of Having a seat at the table?

The US can engage in corridor manoeuvring to keep progress in climate change provisions to a minimum. The US can insist on a cap of further contributions to the Green Climate Fund.  [This Fund is essential for the support of developing countries, but is regarded by influential US business circles as creeping UN socialism.]

The US can insist that the final statements following any COP Conference be watered down. Just like Saudi Arabia has in the past vetoed forceful language in UN statements. (Not that countries have a formal veto – rather they can refuse to endorse statements that contain text they regard as objectionable.)

A seat at the table will also permit Tillerson, who is a known to Premier Putin, to solicit support from Russia during the negotiations over issues that are unfavourable to US interests. And further “gang up” on China, a country that was a climate change ally of the US during the Obama administration.

And in the course of the next four years, the US can be the wet blanket that dampens ambition for the new national reduction targets (INDC’s) needed for lower emissions to prevent the world from exceeding the 2°C maximum temperature increase.

Dear President Trump:  You need not rip anything up! Just be there at the COP table to control where things are going.

Opinions of Others: “Even if U.S. President Donald Trump doesn’t walk away from or try to “tear up” the Paris Agreement, as he threatened on the campaign trail, there’s persistent concern that the new U.S. administration might try to stall implementation of the landmark global deal from the inside.””

Read more from this article in “The Energy Mix”.

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3 thoughts on “A Seat at the Table”

  1. For those who are interested the provisions of the Paris Accord covering withdrawal of a party read:

    Article 28

    1. At any time after three years from the date on which this Agreement has entered into force for a Party, that Party may withdraw from this Agreement by giving written notification to the Depositary.

    2. Any such withdrawal shall take effect upon expiry of one year from the date of receipt by the Depositary of the notification of withdrawal, or on such later date as may be specified in the notification of withdrawal.

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