The world would be laughing at the US if it weren’t for the fact that climate change is a global problem. EPA head Scott Pruitt travelled to Italy to represent the US in the Group of Seven climate talks yesterday. Hours later he decided this wasn’t for him and he let an assistant finish up his business today. One representative called the US participation a “footnote on climate action”.
Since Donald Trump announced to the world that the US would not honour its agreement to stay in the Paris Climate Accord, the administration has often said that it is just looking to renegotiate the deal. Despite leaders of multiple countries saying that no renegotiation will ever take place, Pruitt seems to have continued along that same train of thought while during his brief attendance at G7.
“We are resetting the dialogue to say Paris is not the only way forward to making progress,” Pruitt announced in a statement titled, “United States Resets Climate Change Discussion At G7.” The statement continues with a tone that implies the United States is leading this situation. “Respective of the importance to engage with longstanding allies and key international partners, we approached the climate discussions head on from a position of strength and clarity,” Pruitt writes. But attendees from other nations appear to have simply accepted that this administration is a lost cause and incapable of rationality.
Canadian Environment Minister Catherine McKenna joined Germany, Italy, and France in announcing that no renegotiations will occur. “It was very sad to see that the United States was relegated to a footnote on climate action,” she said on Monday. In fact, McKenna intends to ignore the Trump administration completely, “Let’s be clear — the U.S. is bigger than one administration and we’re going to be moving forward, as is the rest of the world, with the states, cities, and businesses in the United States that are committed to serious climate action and committed to the Paris Agreement.”
The footnote that McKenna was referring to was an actual footnote in the 15-page communiqué that the nations jointly issued following the talks. It says that the US has elected not to join “those sections of the communique on climate and MDBs, reflecting our recent announcement to withdraw and immediately cease implementation of the Paris Agreement and associated financial commitments,” and it “will continue to engage with key international partners in a manner that is consistent with our domestic priorities, preserving both a strong economy and a healthy environment.”
So, Pruitt’s attempt to “reset the dialogue” appears to simply be a personal delusion on his part. But that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been getting anything done. Politico reports that Pruitt has hired Patrick Traylor as Deputy Assistant Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. This defender of the environment comes to the agency from the law firm Hogan Lovells. As an attorney, clients turned to Traylor “to support tens of billions of dollars’ worth of projects at refineries, petrochemical and fertiliser plants, LNG export terminals, coal- and gas-fired power plants, coal mines, and bulk materials terminals,” according to the firm’s website. It goes on to say, “For almost 20 years, clients have relied on Patrick to conduct some of their most sensitive internal compliance investigations and represent them in Clean Air Act enforcement cases.” What kind of clients? Well, there’s Flint Hills Resources, which specialises in refineries, and Koch Nitrogen, which manufactures synthetic fertiliser. Both are owned by the Koch brothers.