In a Blow to Steve Bannon, Trump May Keep Obama’s Paris Climate Agreement

And the hits just keep on coming, with Steve Bannon no doubt beginning to feel like a punching bag. In what might be the surest sign of loss of street cred, The Washington Post‘s Greg Sargent is reporting at the Plum Line that Donald Trump may break his campaign promise and remain in the Paris Climate Agreement:

According to Sargent, Trump will hear from his advisers today on how best to proceed. Apparently, both Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner want to remain and even Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said he likes the idea of “keeping a seat at the table.” Other corporations were signaling even as far back as November of last year a desire to stay in.

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change offers a valuable reminder of the agreement’s goals:

“The Paris Agreement’s central aim is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.”

It was reported at the time by NPR,

More than 360 companies and investors made their plea in an open letter to Trump, President Obama and members of Congress. They called on Trump to “continue U.S. participation in the Paris agreement,” which he has threatened to scrap, and invest in the “low carbon economy at home and abroad.”

As these corporations did then and continue today to recognize is that there are benefits to remaining a part of the agreement, and as Sargent observes, Tillerson’s support is significant:

Still, it’s telling that Tillerson wants to remain in the deal, because that represents a recognition that reneging on this particular international commitment could have detrimental diplomatic consequences. “Imagine trying to get other leaders’ cooperation on the next international crisis, or any Trump priority, after you stuck a finger in everyone’s eye,” David Doniger, director of the climate program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, told me.

“In this sense,” says Sargent, “staying in the Paris accord could deal another blow to the Bannon wing’s ‘economic nationalist’ project,” that “international engagement is primarily a cause for deep suspicion — it’s a threat to American sovereignty.”

This is a familiar trope of Trumpism, one repeated frequently by Trump during his campaign that nefarious international forces were arrayed against the United States, a sort of Illuminati of “global elites” out to destroy us.

We will learn in due time what Trump’s advisers had to say in today’s meeting. It is worth noting that, as Sargent concludes, “if the administration does remain in the Paris accord, it would represent a partial victory over some of the worst elements of both Trumpism and GOP orthodoxy.”

And though Sargent does not mention it, consider this as an added reason to remain:

In 2012 Trump tweeted that global warming was “created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”

Now that it has profited Trump (and Ivanka especially) to become friends with the Chinese instead of adversaries, there is very little reason for Trump to adhere to this previous belief. Especially taking into account China’s own efforts to curb global warming.

Here is something else to build on Sargent’s report: It’s hardly cynicism at this point to say that as long as Trump is profiting, we will hear no more nonsense about Chinese hoaxes.

It would be a sweet irony if, in his attempt to enrich himself, Donald Trump inadvertently helped the rest of us as well.

As an unforeseen consequence of greed, that would be something to celebrate.