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U.S. takes step toward exiting climate accords

The United States on Monday initiated a process to pull out of the Paris climate accords. President Donald Trump rightly seized the opportunity.

About 200 countries signed on to the Paris accords, which were negotiated during 2015. There was enormous pressure from the United States, under then-President Barack Obama, for an agreement and for other nations to be signatories.

In fact, as you may recall, this country agreed to participate solely because of an executive order issued by Obama. Though treaties with other nations are required by the Constitution to be approved by the U.S. Senate, Obama never submitted it to that body. He understood that the duly elected representatives of the American people would not approve.

Provisions of the accords allow most countries to set their own targets for reducing carbon emissions. China, our most serious economic and military foe, in essence agreed that it would at some date in the future begin to reduce emissions.

But the United States was required by the accords to slash emissions immediately and dramatically, to the point our economy would have been put at a disadvantage.

What our competitors would prefer not be made clear is that virtually alone among industrialized nations the United States has been reducing emissions and continues to do so at a rapid pace.

And, there is this: This country, from which about 15% of carbon emissions come, is not the world’s most serious climate change threat. China — at 30% — earns that title.

Americans will continue to make rapid, major strides in reducing carbon emissions. But holding us to the Paris accords would wreck our economy — while doing nothing about nations such as China and India, where carbon emissions continue to go up.

For most of his presidency, Trump could do nothing about the Paris agreement. One of its stipulations was that no nation could withdraw during the pact’s first three years. The accords went into effect Nov. 4, 2016. The United States can now get out.

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