President Trump’s new national security adviser called the decision to exit the Paris climate accord “excellent” because the global agreement presented “danger in the longer term.”
John Bolton’s ascension in the West Wing dims the prospect of re-engaging in the landmark climate deal. He has long been critical of international agreements, which he believes constrain national sovereignty. He made that case forcefully as former President George W. Bush’s U.N. ambassador.
“What they wanted was an agreement on anything to create the foundation for what they’re really interested in, which is more international control over national decision-making,” Bolton said on Fox News when Trump announced his intent to withdraw from the agreement on June 1, 2017.
On the one hand, Bolton called the agreement a “self-licking ice cream cone” whose “purpose is to exist.” And before the U.S. exit, Bolton told the Breitbart News Network that it’s an “utterly meaningless document” in part because “each country involved sets its own targets and then declares its own progress.”
That dig aligns somewhat with the reason that Paris proponents argued the United States could remain in the accord, as carbon-cutting targets are nonbinding under the framework. Some suggested Trump could revise the greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal downward that former President Obama set.
But several members of Trump’s team thought those so-called nationally determined contributions could be changed only to become more ambitious. Remaining in the pact would have exposed the United States to lawsuits that would endanger rollbacks of the Clean Power Plan and other domestic policies, they feared.
That, essentially, is the line Bolton took, as well.
“There are lots of economic arguments here about the effect of this agreement,” Bolton said on Fox News. “To me, the overarching, ultimately most important, more than constitutional question was, do we govern ourselves here, or are we going to cede governance authority to international organizations? And that’s what’s been rejected.”
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