Weeks Before Pres. Trump Can Officially Withdraw from Paris Climate Agreement, SFRC Democrats Insist U.S. Remain in Fight against Global Warming

WASHINGTON – With less than 40 days until President Trump can officially begin to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accords, Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) Ranking Member, Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), led the full Democratic membership of the SFRC in sending a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo once again calling on the Trump Administration to provide valid justification for the United States’ withdrawal from the international accord.

 

“Climate change is an existential threat that requires all countries and leadership from the United States to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and avoid irreparable damage to our planet,” wrote the senators. “The United States Congress, American people, and the international community need to understand how the President is conducting climate change diplomacy and acting to combat global climate change – beyond just dogmatic skepticism of his predecessor’s work.”

 

The Senators’ letter follows weeks of demonstrations demanding enhanced U.S. action to address the global threat of climate change, and lays out the members’ concerns with President Trump’s reckless decision to withdraw the United States from the Accord without a coherent plan for advancing U.S. national security and economic interests affected by it.

 

The senators also raise President Trump’s failure to deliver on his initial promise to negotiate a better and bipartisan agreement, writing: “We are not aware of any outreach efforts the administration has made to work ‘immediately’ on a ‘new deal’ with Democrats, nor have we seen or heard about any progress towards negotiating a new international ‘deal that’s fair.’”

 

Joining Menendez in sending the letter to Secretary Pompeo were Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.).

 

Full text of the SFRC Democrats letters can be found here and below.

 

The Honorable Mike Pompeo

Secretary of State

U.S. Department of State

2201 C Street, N.W.

Washington, DC 20520

 

 

Dear Secretary Pompeo:

 

On June 1, 2017, President Trump announced the United States’ intention to withdraw from the Paris Climate Change Agreement. Though the announcement occurred more than two years before the U.S. could act to realize this plan, the earliest date (November 4, 2019) the President could initiate the yearlong withdrawal process is now 39 days away. We, the undersigned, write to urge you and the President to reverse this decision and remain a party to the Agreement.  

Climate change is an existential threat that requires all countries and leadership from the United States to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and avoid irreparable damage to our planet.

 

We recognize that the Administration has refused these calls in the past, so in advance of the likely beginning of the U.S. withdrawal process; we are requesting that you provide Congress:

 

-        Comprehensive justifications for the U.S.’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement;

-        Detailed explanations of the U.S. strategy for maintaining global leadership and influence on international cooperation to combat climate change – including strategic plans for continued engagement on decisions made within the framework of the Paris Agreement as an “observer” to Agreement; and

-        Articulation of how U.S. interest are better served as a “non-party” to the Agreement.

 

A similar request was made of you in February to which you still have not responded.

 

The President’s June 1, 2017 announcement also stated a conditional interest in maintaining U.S. acceptance of the Paris Agreement, or initiating a new international agreement when he said, “we will start to negotiate, and we will see if we can make a deal that’s fair.” He also expressed interest “to immediately work with Democrats to either negotiate our way back into Paris, under the terms that are fair to the United States and its workers, or to negotiate a new deal”. We are not aware of any outreach efforts the administration has made to work “immediately” on a “new deal” with Democrats, nor have we seen or heard about any progress towards negotiating a new international “deal that’s fair”. Given that time is short, we insist that you provide Congress:

 

-        A progress report on the administration’s efforts “to negotiate… a deal that’s fair”.

-        Whether the administration will consider the concessions the U.S. successfully negotiated to the Paris Agreement “Rulebook” (also known as the “Katowice Rulebook”) at COP24 a sufficient “deal that’s fair” that warrants keeping U.S. party to the Paris Agreement?

  • If not, please explain why the Katowice Rulebook fails to satisfy such fairness tests, and why then did the U.S. support the adoption of the Katowice Rulebook?

-        A determination as to whether the administration intends to follow through on the President’s stated intentions to “work with Democrats to either negotiate our way back into Paris… or to negotiate a new deal.” Granted, avoiding the predicate of withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, would alleviate the need for either such negotiations.

 

Although we strongly object, it is certainly the President’s prerogative to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, and “to negotiate a new deal” with Democrats. Therefore, we urge you to provide Congress with the President’s proposed “new deal” (alternative to the Paris Agreement). Congressional Democrats and Republicans should have the opportunity to review such a proposal, as well as the opportunity to engage with the administration on the “new deal” intended for renewed negotiations with parties to the Paris Agreement.

 

We strongly believe that withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris Agreement amounts to a self-inflicted error that weakens America’s leadership on the world stage, diminishes the effectiveness of the international community’s efforts to combat climate change, and yields opportunity costs for the American private sector’s investments in clean energy innovation and marketing of more sustainable products. The United States Congress, American people, and the international community need to understand how the President is conducting climate change diplomacy and acting to combat global climate change – beyond just dogmatic skepticism of his predecessor’s work. We support maintaining U.S. participation and leadership within the Paris Agreement. While we disapprove of the President’s inclination to withdraw the U.S. from the Agreement, we do appreciate the opening he offered to keep the U.S. in the Agreement and we continue to wait for constructive engagement from the administration towards achieving that end. 

 

Thank you for your attention to this matter. We look forward to your response.

 

Sincerely,

 

###