By Chris White
President Donald Trump will sign an executive order Thursday indirectly targeting the Paris climate summit agreement signed by the Obama administration seeking to reduce carbon emission levels over the next two decades.
Trump will sign two memos broadly eliminating funding for any United Nations (U.N.) agencies which give full membership to terrorist organizations or which support programs that fund abortion. The memos would also direct committees to enact “at least a 40 percent overall decrease” in remaining funding toward international organizations and instruct committees to review any further treaties.
Trump, who made dismantling the Paris agreement a central part of his campaign message, does not intend to directly target the agreement, but instead will reduce U.N. funding, according to a Wednesday report by The News York Times.
Recent reports show 200 countries have reaffirmed pledges to comply with the Paris deal, which aims to keep so-called global warming below 2 degrees Celsius.
“[F]rom what we’ve seen the [executive order] does not mention the Paris Agreement directly, but rather that would be reviewed by default if in fact all multilateral treaties are to be reviewed,” Rhys Gerholdt, a spokesman for the environmental think tank World Resources Institute, told reporters shortly after TheNYT’s report was published.
David Waskow, the program director for World Resources Institute, questioned Trump’s authority to retroactively slash funding for any U.N. programs since defunding the agency’s obligations would take congressional action from appropriators.
“It’s hard to know what its effect is,” Waskow said. “One of the questions I’ve had is what the executive authority is they are going on, given that appropriations generally can direct those decisions.”
The memos appear to fall in line with comments made by Trump’s U.N. Ambassador, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who told senators at her confirmation hearing in early January that she would impress upon the international agency that any solution to global warming must not come at the expense of U.S. businesses. The Republican also noted that she would not agree with last year’s Paris climate agreement if it results in draconian regulations that hurt American workers.
Trump once suggested that climate change is a “hoax created by China” to disrupt the U.S. economy and harm American business. He has since moderated his tone, telling reporters in December that he is “open-minded” on global warming and believes that climate change is probably naturally occurring.
He also promised to “cancel billions in global warming payments to the United Nations” and redirect the funds toward U.S. environmental programs instead, effectively undoing the $3 billion pledge former President Barack Obama made to the U.N.’s Green Climate Fund, a program giving funds to developing countries that reduce carbon emissions.