Will the U.S. hand off the Paris Agreement baton to China?

US CHina ratificationIn London today, Myron Ebell told participants at a climate denier conference that the U.S. will pull out of the Paris Agreement: “He could do it by executive order tomorrow or he could do it as part of a larger package.” Ebell is a well known U.S. climate denier who was tapped by the Trump Administration to lead the pre-inauguration EPA transition team.

While Ebell’s statement confirms Trump’s campaign rhetoric, it also appears to contradict the Trump Administration’s nominee for Secretary of State.  Former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson recently testified at his confirmation hearing, “I think it’s important that the United States maintain its seat at the table in the conversation on how to address threats of climate change. They do require a global response. No one country is going to solve this alone.”

Meanwhile, Representative Leutkemeyer of Missouri introduced a bill last week to prohibit U.S. participation in the IPCC, UNFCCC, and the Green Climate Fund. The bill’s co-sponsors are Representative Graves (also from MO), Duncan (SC),and Gosar (AZ). H.R.673 – To prohibit United States contributions to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the Green Climate Fund – was referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on January 24, 2017. As of today, the Library of Congress’  Congress.gov reports that the bill’s text is not yet available, citing transmission delays from the Government Publishing Office.

As we observed after COP22, the BASIC countries – Brazil, South Africa, India, and China – are poised to lead Paris Agreement implementation, with or without U.S. participation. President Xi Jinping declared at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit that “countries should view their own interest in the broader context and refrain from pursuing their own interests at the expense of others.” A Desmog blog post today, entitled “How Politics and Pollution Could Push China Into the Climate Leader Role the US Is Giving up,” underscores China’s multilateral leadership interest while also exposing its internal motivations. In sum: China is both “eager to fill the vacuum in climate change leadership” and “to eat America’s lunch in the renewable energy sector.” Professor Angel Hsu of the Yale School of Forestry warns that “the U.S. economy stands to suffer with Trump’s denial of clean energy. If Trump wants to create jobs like he says he does, ignoring the potential of green jobs would be a huge oversight.” According to President Xi, China’s green investments are already “paying off”.