CNN is reporting that Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, has threatened to step down from the presidential advisory council if President Donald Trump withdraws from the Paris Climate Agreement, as he is expected to do. For a couple of reasons, this could be an incredibly foolish thing for him to do.

The Paris climate agreement is a bad deal and will not affect climate change

Even if one believes that climate change is a threat to the planet and human civilization, the Paris accord does very little to address it, according to some. Benjamin Zycher, who works on energy and environmental policies at the American Enterprise Institute and who's also Senior Fellow at the Pacific Research Institute, believes for instance that even if the suggestions of the agreement were fully implemented, the decline in global temperature would be .17 degrees Celsius: a rounding error that would have no measurable effects on global climate or sea levels.

Of course, the Paris agreement is technically nonbinding. It provides targets for the reduction of carbon emissions but does not provide an enforcement mechanism. Moreover, two of the biggest polluters on the planet, China and India, are given only nominal targets. In short, the burden as such is placed on the United States and Europe and is not equally shared.

An attempt to rein in carbon emissions by government fiat would almost certainly cripple economic growth and job creation at the cost of trillions of dollars. The price of energy will soar as western countries clamp down on fossil fuels. In the developing world, the mandates of the Paris agreement would cause untold misery and death as their development into modern economies are suppressed.

Elon Musk needs the good will of Donald Trump

Musk has known for most of his career that his businesses need the good will of people in power, in order to be successful. That knowledge is what drove him to hobnob with President Barack Obama when he cancelled the Constellation space exploration program and ramp up subsidies for commercial space, thus benefiting SpaceX.

Tesla, his electric car company, and his solar roof enterprise rely on government subsidies.

When Trump became president, Musk bucked the disdain felt about him in Silicon Valley and joined his technology advisory council. He stated that it was better that someone of his mindset was on the inside, advising the president, than on the outside, opposing him.

That fact will not change whether the United States is in the Paris climate agreement or has withdrawn from it.

How Trump can make an end run

On the other hand, President Trump could be clever and submit the agreement to the United States Senate as if it was a treaty (which it was, despite Obama’s treating it as an executive agreement). The chances of the Senate mustering the two-thirds vote necessary to ratify Paris is just about nil. Then Trump will have the legal basis to not adhere to the agreement and to craft a sensible energy policy that follows science and not political whim.