Thursday, November 10, 2016

Todd Stern Warns Killing Accord Would Be 'Hugely Damaging'

Former U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern (left) sits across from Secretary of State John Kerry in the U.S. center in Le Bourget, France, last year discussing the negotiations toward a new global deal. Stern was one of the lead architects of what would become the Paris Agreement, a deal more than five years in the making that President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to cancel. (Photo Credit: U.S. State Department) Click to Enlarge.
The top U.S. architect of the Paris Agreement said yesterday that he is not ready to assume that the election of Donald Trump as president will kill America's participation in the global climate deal.

Former U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern in an exclusive interview with E&E News said he was deeply disappointed by Tuesday night's results.  Trump has said he will abandon the deal that Stern spent 7 ½ years helping to broker.

"The last thing I am right now is Pollyannaish," he said.  "And the last, last thing I am on Earth would be any kind of an apologist for Donald Trump."

But Stern, who stepped down in the spring after helping guide the Paris Agreement across the finish line in December, said he also isn't "jumping to a conclusion" about what Trump might mean for Paris.  Trump's climate statements from the stump, Stern said, have been "completely unhelpful."  But, he said, candidates' statements don't always track with their actions once they take office.

"I've seen administrations come and go, and the fact that there were some applause lines tossed out there on climate doesn't necessarily mean that he, for example, pulls out or walks away from Paris," he said, declining to offer examples from the past, "although he might."

In Trump's case, he consistently pledged to withdraw from the deal reached by nearly 200 countries after more than two decades of talks — or at least to "renegotiate" it.  Trump also promised to strip the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change of all U.S. funding — something his U.S. EPA transition team head, Myron Ebell, said must happen anyway under domestic law because of the status the body has granted to Palestine.

Trump also said "billions and billions" of dollars now being spent on federal climate programs would be redirected to infrastructure and other purposes.

But Stern said he will reserve judgement until Trump has time to choose his core international advisers, including his secretary of State, national security adviser and chief of staff of the White House.  He hopes seasoned policy experts will see the diplomatic price of abandoning Paris as too high.

"I think it would be hugely damaging for our longer-range credibility," said Stern, echoing a sentiment expressed by many climate advocates in the hours since yesterday morning's surprise result.  "I think it would radiate beyond the climate context."

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