PHOENIX — Known for not always agreeing with his president, U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona said pulling out of the Paris Accord on climate change would make sense if the terms weren’t to the country’s benefit.
That’s what President Donald Trump has said for months.
“(If) Limits that wouldn’t harm our economy, we should stay. If not, we should leave,” he told KTAR 92.3FM’s Arizona’s Morning News on Thursday, hours before Trump would announce his decision whether to country would stay or go.
Trump stuck with his campaign promise a handful of hours after Flake’s assessment, pulling the United States out of the nonbinding pact. He also said he was willing to negotiate a “fair deal.”
Flake looked at both sides of the issue. Trump had threatened to withdraw from the deal during his campaign, describing the accord as unfair to the U.S. because richer nations must help poorer ones create renewable energy.
The United States, along with China and India, are among the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitters.
Participation in the accord, “is voluntary,” Flake said, “it’s an executive agreement, so with the stroke of a pen, the president can remove the United States from the Paris Accord.”
President Barack Obama, along with leaders of 194 other nations, had agreed to the Paris Accord before the end of 2016.
Scientists from across the globe are worried if the U.S. drops out, other countries’ effort would slow.
“And we have to consider whether our exit would compel or would give countries that are not doing what they should in terms of the environment an excuse to not make progress,” Flake said.
“I wouldn’t want to give China and India and other countries a reason not make progress, but on the other hand … I think some of the goals set for us would harm the economy so if we could set limits …”
Flake added Syria and Nicaragua were the only countries that had not signed the accord.
“That’s a concern. We don’t want to be the country that leaves everybody else at the table.”
Trump made his announcement from the White House Rose Garden around 12:30 p.m. Arizona time.
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