French President Emmanuel Macron appears confident that he can coax President Trump back into the fold on the Paris climate agreement, but those who oppose the international accord aren’t sweating it.
Why? Because Mr. Trump has made it clear he won’t rejoin the emissions-cutting pact without having it restructured so as not to put the United States at a competitive disadvantage with the rest of the world.
That restructuring hasn’t happened, but Mr. Macron told the French newspaper Journal du Dimanche after last week’s face-to-face meeting that “Donald Trump listened to me. He understood the reason for my position, notably the link between climate change and terrorism.”
The French leader’s remarks about his charm offensive made headlines. “I’ve won Trump over on climate change, says Macron,” trumpeted The [U.K.] Times on its front page.
“He understood the sense of my approach,” Mr. Macron said in the Monday report. “He told me that he would try to find a solution in the coming months. We talked in detail about what could enable him to come back into the Paris accords.”
Still, Myron Ebell of the Trump environmental transition team said he wouldn’t advise anyone to hold their breath waiting for the White House to re-enter the nonbinding pact.
“President Trump was quite clear in his [June 1] speech that he would be willing to reenter the Paris Climate Treaty on terms that are in our national interest,” said Mr. Ebell, director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, in an email.
That would mean renegotiating the U.S.’ nationally determined contribution along the lines of what was granted to China, he said, meaning “we would commit to increase our greenhouse gas emissions until they peak and then decline according to our economic needs.”
Benny Peiser, director of the climate change-skeptical Global Warming Policy Forum in London, said Mr. Macron’s claim “has been both overhyped and misinterpreted by the news media.”
“In reality, it would appear that President Trump may have swayed Macron to change his position on the UN climate deal,” said Mr. Peiser in an email.
The leaders of France, Germany and Italy responded to Mr. Trump’s June 1 exit from the Paris agreement with a rare joint statement ruling out any restructuring.
“We deem the momentum generated in Paris in December 2015 irreversible, and we firmly believe that the Paris Agreement cannot be renegotiated since it is a vital instrument for our planet, societies and economies,” said the statement.
After meeting last week with Mr. Trump in Paris, however, the newly elected French president may be rethinking his opposition.
“In short, my assessment is that President Macron may be preparing the ground for giving up the EU’s rejectionist position about the Paris agreement,” said Mr. Peiser. “After all, this, I believe, is the only likely option to bring back the U.S. administration to the negotiating table — and even this scenario looks more like a utopian dream at the present time.”
Mr. Trump reversed the Obama administration’s decision to sign onto the accord, which seeks to hold the global temperature increase this century to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels “through nationally determined contributions.”
Climate Depot’s Marc Morano said that there will never be a reason for the Trump administration to rejoin as long as the premise remains that “only a U.N. central planning agreement can save humanity.”
“President Trump can use his negotiation charm to dangle the prospect of a renegotiated deal, but it is very clear that the U.S. is out and will stay out under his presidency,” Mr. Morano said in an email.
Climate Progress editor Joe Romm was also a skeptic, at least when it came to any chance of Mr. Trump re-entering the pact.
“I hope Macron isn’t so easily duped,” said Mr. Romm in a Tuesday post. “In reality, there is no substance supporting any of these stories. They are all based on Macron’s belief that Trump actually listened to his arguments in favor of the Paris agreement and was persuaded by him — whereas Trump’s entire history, and his public remarks, suggest otherwise.”
The United States was the only holdout among the 20 nations gathered last week for the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.
At the same time, the United States has led the world in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, with carbon dioxide output declining in recent years as cheap natural gas supplants coal in fueling electricity generation.
• Valerie Richardson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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