Paris climate deal stronger without U.S., experts say

Global climate leaders say a clean break may be better than leaving skeptics in control.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   May 9, 2017 at 8:34 AM
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May 9 (UPI) -- The Paris climate agreement may be better without the United States given the president's skepticism on the issue, international experts said.

U.S. President Donald Trump was expected to water down commitments to some of the targets in the global climate pact or pull out of it altogether later this week. As a candidate, the president expressed doubt about climate change, but has offered a fluid stance since taking office in January.

Michael Traut, a researcher at the Tyndall Center for Climate Change in the United Kingdom told IRIN, a former U.N. news agency, that leaving the Paris deal might be better than lowering commitments.

"There is the risk of rendering the Paris Agreement almost meaningless [with diminished commitments]," he said.

The world's largest economy leaving the deal would be met with harsh criticism, though Gabriel Marty, a former French negotiator pivotal to the Paris deal, told IRIN the agreement might actually be stronger without the United States.

"It's in this sense that staying in and misbehaving has the potential of being worse than a clean pullout," he said.

Last week, twelve state governors, including those rich in shale natural resources, signed a letter to the U.S. president requesting continued alignment with the global climate agreement. In the letter, they remind the president that, because it's a multilateral accord, other developing economies like China and India will capitalize on the economic benefits of renewable technology if the United States leaves.

Penned shortly after the January inauguration, China's official Xinhua News Agency warned the Trump administration that decoupling the U.S. economy from the renewable energy sector might not work as designed.

Since taking office, Trump has called on the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to roll back regulations on climate change and clean water protection. The head of the agency, Scott Pruitt, has pledged to restore the U.S. coal mining industry, although EPA scientific review boards have recommended limitations on coal pollution to combat climate change.

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