When the Trump administration finally comes around to supporting a global climate agreement: A ‘lone wolf’ is the only option
The United States will soon face a decision on whether to sign an international climate agreement that has so far failed to secure major powers’ support.
The White House announced Monday that it is looking at the Kyoto Protocol, a treaty signed by nearly 190 countries in 1997 that aims to curb global warming and limit the growth of greenhouse gas emissions.
It will be the first time that the United States has formally ratified a climate deal since President Barack Obama left office in 2017.
But Trump’s administration has signaled it will be open to renegotiating the pact, potentially leaving it vulnerable to attacks from both Republicans and Democrats.
The Trump administration has already taken steps to soften its position, promising to review the Kyoto deal and working with the International Energy Agency, the United Nations agency that manages greenhouse gas limits.
It has also announced a plan to phase out coal-fired power plants by 2035.
If Trump follows through on those steps, the pact could face a tough test, especially after a report on Monday said it would take almost a decade to implement the global pact’s goals.
Climate experts say Trump’s proposal to phase the world out coal by 2030 would result in a drastic shift in U.S. energy policies, pushing away many small companies and hurting state economies that depend on exports of coal.
The Trump administration is trying to sell the plan as a path toward reducing greenhouse gas pollution, but critics warn that it would be a far cry from the decades-long effort to reduce carbon emissions.
They argue that even if Trump succeeds in reversing climate change, the U.N. treaty would still not guarantee that the U,S.
would meet its emissions targets.
“We’re going to have to work with the administration on the treaty, and I think that’s where we’re going,” said Scott Thomsen, the director of climate and energy policy at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
Trump’s plan would require states to provide more energy independence for small businesses and would impose a 20-percent cap on the amount of energy that utilities could burn, but it would not require states and local governments to comply with the deal’s rules.
A U.K.-based think tank, the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, said the Kyoto plan would cost the U