May 2, 2017
Facts Matter

Symbolism v. substance in Trump's climate decision

The Issue

The Trump administration is in the throes of deciding whether to pull out of the Paris climate deal, or stay in and try to roll back commitments made by Barack Obama. Right now, the tide is turning in the favor of those who want to pull out, including senior adviser Steve Bannon and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.

The Facts

Trump is already in the process of throwing out Obama's main commitment to that deal: an EPA regulation cutting carbon emissions from power plants. Regardless of whether the administration stays in or leaves the deal, the substance of the U.S. pledge is gone for good.

Why it matters

Substance aside, symbolism matters in diplomacy issues like this. What the U.S. does and how it does it could influence other big carbon-emitting nations like China and India.

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