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During a joint press conference
with Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg on 10 January 2018, President
Trump said “We could conceivably go back in” regarding the Paris Agreement on
climate change.  President Trump has received
much criticism both at home and abroad for deciding to withdraw from the Paris
Agreement, and his actions have affected both the image and influence of the
United States in Europe.  One of the main
critics of President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate
Agreement is French President Emmanuel Macron, who has been vocal about his
disapproval of President Trump’s governance (such as his tweeting) on multiple
occasions.  It is imperative for the
United States to maintain a good relationship with France, as numerous
disagreements with France could have negative repercussions on our presence and
influence in Europe.  Re-entering the
Paris Agreement will improve US relations with France and the European Union,
and strengthen the American government’s image at home and abroad.  In addition, investing in climate-friendly
industries such as renewable energy will positively impact our economy in many


Recommendation: That the
US use the momentum from the joint press conference with Prime Minister Solberg
to re-enter the Paris Agreement on climate change

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Background: Because of
our shared values and similar political, economic and security policies,
relations with France have been generally active and friendly since the
founding of our nations.  Indeed, the
French provided the US with assistance during American Revolutionary War, and
France was the first country to recognize the United States of America as an
independent nation in 1778.


Re-entering the Paris Agreement
could lead to better cooperation between the US and France.  Both countries are among the founders of powerful
and influential international organizations such as the United Nations, NATO,
the G-8, the G-20, and the World Trade Organization.  But nowadays when negotiating with France, we
are actually negotiating with the European Union.  Therefore, hindering the United States’
relationship with France could directly impact our relationship with the rest
of the European Union.  There could be
many consequences, from trade restrictions to a decrease in American influence
in Europe.  For the sake of the US
economy and the American government’s influence and image abroad, it is
important to maintain a good relationship with France (and the EU).  Re-entering the Paris Agreement will have a
positive effect on our relationship with Europe and strengthen the image of the
US abroad.


The US is already experiencing the consequences of withdrawing from the
Paris Agreement; by not being included in important global events and
coalitions, the US is being set aside from other influential world leaders.  On 12 December 2017, exactly two years after
the Paris Agreement, President Macron hosted the One Planet Summit in Paris to
discuss new solutions to climate change, with an emphasis on the finance sector.  The Summit was co-organized with the help of the
President of the World Bank Group, Jim Yong Kim, and the Secretary-General of
the United Nations, António Guterres; participants included many world leaders,
as well as very influential public and private organizations and
corporations.  The event resulted in the
12 International Commitments, which include actions for “stepping up for
finance adaptation and resilience to climate change”, “accelerating the
transition towards a decarbonized economy”, and “anchoring climate issues at
the center of the decisions of finance and its actors”.


President Macron did not invite President Trump to join the One Planet
Summit, a direct consequence of the United States’ decision to withdraw from
the Paris Agreement last summer.  In
an interview with CBS News on 11 December 2017, French President Macron
discussed President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate
Agreement: “The U.S. did sign the Paris Agreement. It’s extremely aggressive to
decide on its own just to leave, and no way to push the others to renegotiate
because one decided to leave the floor. I’m sorry to say that. It doesn’t fly.” 


Additional Points: The
Paris Agreement is not strictly binding; re-entering it can only be beneficial
to the US.  It will not only be very
positive for US leadership, but also strengthen image of the US at home and abroad,
boost the economy with more and better paid jobs, and help counter terrorism and
the refugee crisis.


Following the US decision to
withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement this past summer, Erik Solheim,
the UN Environment head, released a statement emphasizing the responsibilities
developed countries have in committing to climate action and the benefits
participating countries can reap from these actions:


“Climate action
is not a burden, but an unprecedented opportunity. A shift to renewable energy
creates more jobs, better paid jobs and better quality jobs. Decreasing our
dependence on fossil fuels will build more inclusive and robust economies. It
will save millions of lives and slash the huge healthcare cost of pollution.

… Committing to climate action means helping countries like Iraq and Somalia
on the front line of extremism and terrorism. It means helping coastal
communities from Louisiana to the Solomon Islands. It means protecting food
security and building stability to avoid adding yet more refugees to what is
already an unprecedented global humanitarian crisis.”


The G-20 economies are
responsible for the largest share of greenhouse gas emission, in particular
Brazil, China, the EU, and the United States, which were responsible for about
50% of total greenhouse gas emissions in 2012 (den Elzen et al., 2016).  Refusing to re-enter the Paris Agreement when
the US is one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gas is being perceived as
selfish and irresponsible by other world leaders (notably President Macron),
who could become less inclined to doing business with a country who is not
contributing their share of the burden.


A study by Carraro and Davide
(2017) on the effects of climate policies on the economy in the EU argues that “the
worries about costs induced by climate regulation are usually overestimated.” Their
findings prove that the impact of EU climate policy on households (whether
low-income or not) are minimal, and welfare losses and GDP costs are also
limited.  Indeed, Rogelj et al. (2016)
found that “measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions have multiple
socio-economic benefits.”


Economically, investing in new green industries makes more sense than
reopening coal mines, and it is
less risky than contaminating aquifers with fracking byproducts, let alone (re)opening
Arctic Refuge and offshore areas to oil and gas drilling (see August 2017 Memo
on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge).


Finally, as opposed to common belief that
committing to the Paris Agreement will not effectively reduce global warming, den
Elzen et al (2016) found that “Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (the
Paris Agreement national commitments) do lead to reductions compared to
projected current policies trends.”


Many American companies and
financial institutions have already publicly committed to continue supporting climate action to achieve the
US commitments under the Paris Agreement. 
Re-entering the Paris Agreement is a mere formality that will guarantee
a better relationship with France and Europe, and improve the image of the US
government at home and abroad.  America
cannot be first if we continue to be
excluded from essential global events.

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