‘Congressman From Koch’ Announces US Formal Withdrawal from Paris Agreement
Mike Pompeo, the so-called “congressman from Koch,” announced the U.S.’ formal withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement on Monday.
The Trump Administration notified the United Nations on Monday that it plans to formally withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, initiating a one year process that will culminate the day after the 2020 election.
The United States is the only nation to renounce the global agreement to keep warming below 2 degrees Celsius. Because the world’s wealthiest and most powerful country has abandoned the effort, other disinclined leaders have been provided “moral and political cover” to “follow suit,” according to a 2018 report by the Institute of International and European Affairs.
Despite repeated warnings from scientists of the urgent need to reduce carbon emissions, the U.S. is on track to create nearly two-thirds of the world’s new fossil fuel production over the next 10 years, according to an August report from Global Witness. Critics believe the United States’ lack of leadership has contributed to carbon emissions reaching an all time high in 2018.
Fearsome wildfires in the Amazon, unprecedented ice melting in Greenland, and record-breaking temperatures throughout the world appeared to make many world leaders more cognizant of climate change in 2019. Meanwhile, Trump replaced scientists with fossil fuel lobbyists and slashed regulations on methane, carbon emissions, and coal pollution.
“Today we begin the formal process of withdrawing from the Paris Agreement,” tweeted Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “The U.S. is proud of our record as a world leader in reducing all emissions, fostering resilience, growing our economy, and ensuring energy for our citizens. Ours is a realistic and pragmatic model.”
Pompeo’s concept of realism and pragmatism may be influenced by the vast funds he accepted from the Koch brothers during his time as an Oklahoma Representative, which earned him the moniker “Congressman from Koch.”
According to experts Jane Mayer and Chris Leonard, the Koch brothers are the most influential figures in the history of climate policy, having worked to cripple environmental action since at least 1991, when President George H.W. Bush announced his support for a treaty limiting carbon emissions. Before the Kochs poured their fortunes into creating an anti-science think tank network, Republicans largely accepted the scientific consensus from expert groups such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The Paris Agreement’s objectives are non-binding, making Trump’s exit more a symbolic act of defiance than a concrete policy change. As journalist Naomi Klein noted, the United States and its fossil fuel corporations are the reason the agreement’s goals are non-committal, as the country lobbied to water down the accord’s goals and eliminate means of legal enforcement.
Despite the Agreement’s lack of teeth, however, it remains significant as the world’s clear commitment to cooperate and keep warming below 2 degrees Celsius. Critics condemned Trump’s withdrawal as immoral and backwards, noting numerous studies that show the growing potential of renewable energy sources like offshore wind and solar.
“Abandoning the Paris agreement is cruel to future generations, leaving the world less safe and productive,” Andrew Steer, president of the World Resources Institute, said in a statement. “It also fails people in the United States, who will lose out on clean energy jobs, as other nations grab the competitive and technological advantages that the low-carbon future offers.”