Who knows? It’s summer in Paris, full of joie de vivre, when a dinner at the Eiffel Tower with a friendly counterpart can put all things into a new perspective. For instance, all of this bonhomie could produce a shift in the climate on, er … climate change. Who knows?
Eh … probably not. Donald Trump dangled the possibility earlier today in Paris while holding a joint press conference with French president Emmanuel Macron, oddly right after Macron told reporters of his “respect” for Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris accord:
Pres. Trump on Paris Accord: “We’ll see what happens…if it happens that will be wonderful. If it doesn't that will be okay too.” pic.twitter.com/8uo7qRyaJg
— ABC News (@ABC) July 13, 2017
“We have expressed them on a number of occasions but I in it is important that we can continue to talk about it. I very much respect the decision taken by president Trump,” Macron said, according to a translation of his remarks, which were in French.
Macron later said that he and Trump have spoken about the American leader’s views against the Paris agreement but said that their disagreement should not impact the other subject areas.
Trump said that “I mean, something could happen with respect to the Paris accord. We’ll see what happens. But we will talk about that over the coming period of time. And if it happens, that will be wonderful, and if it doesn’t, that will be okay, too.”
That’s an odd position for Trump to take now. His hard-edged decision to withdraw from the accord led to him getting beaten up by the media and America’s European allies in both the G-7 and G-20 summits this spring. Trump could have easily just kept the decision open and allowed the other heads of government to offer him their “respect” while he mulled over his decision, and perhaps might have used it as bargaining leverage for other purposes. Here, though, Trump offers to keep the issue alive “over the coming period of time” despite having already concluded that the Paris accord hurts the US economy and lets others off the hook at our expense, for not much in return.
At this point, the only motion that can come will be from Trump himself. The other nations in the accord have unambiguously rejected any idea of renegotiating the pact. Perhaps Trump thinks he can peel Macron off from that consensus and force a reopening of negotiations, but Macron didn’t bite. It looks more like Macron succeeded in getting Trump to reconsider his decision, but Trump has a habit of making public statements like this after meeting with policy opponents, only to revert back immediately to his original positions. (Remember Trump’s thoughts on ObamaCare after meeting with Barack Obama immediately after the election?) It’s the rhetorical equivalent of a pat on the back, and about as long-lasting.