Guest essay by Robert Bradley Jr.
As of today, the United States will cease all implementation of the non-binding Paris Accord and the draconian financial and economic burdens the agreement imposes on our country. This includes ending the implementation of the nationally determined contribution and, very importantly, the Green Climate Fund which is costing the United States a vast fortune.
-President Trump on the Paris Climate Agreement, June 1, 2017
Climate scientist James Hansen called it “a fraud really, a fake.” President Donald Trump called it “a massive redistribution of United States wealth to other countries.” And this odd couple of alarmist scientist and skeptical politician agreed: the Obama-led Paris climate accord was all about lobbyists and imaging, not climate change.
Trump’s decision, one year in, remains bold, brilliant, and correct. And it will only get better as the rest of the world confronts the disconnect between what economic coordination and progress require and what starry-eyed bureaucrats want.
Consumers desire the most affordable, plentiful, reliable energies. Taxpayers favor neutrality, non-involvement. And governments ’round the world need to direct their limited resources to real here-and-now problems, not speculative, distant, unsolvable ones. As such, the U.S.-side Paris-deflating decision is pro-world, leaving only parasitic bureaucrats in the cold.
What exactly is the Paris climate agreement? In the words of its sponsor, the United Nations:
The Paris Agreement requires all Parties to put forward their best efforts [to reduce man-made greenhouse gases] through nationally determined contributions (NDCs) and to strengthen these efforts in the years ahead. This includes requirements that all Parties report regularly on their emissions and on their implementation efforts.
The goal of the accord is to limit the rise of global temperatures to not more than 2 degrees Celsius—and attempt to limit it to 1.5 degrees Celsius—above pre-industrial levels. The highly debatable assumption is that temperatures will otherwise surpass these levels because of human activity in the foreseeable future.
The accord is necessarily voluntary and aspirational for each of its signatories. Yet it is binding on citizens, in that each nation-party can forcibly intervene in its own energy market to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), as well as methane and other manmade greenhouse gases, despite the cost and hardship of doing so.
In the U.S., President Barack Obama was barreling down the interventionist tracks on the pretense of complying with the Paris Agreement, which was ratified (under its own terms) in November 2016. The U.S. was going firm on emissions reductions, while the rest of the world had much more latitude in its supposed reductions. And the US was the chief payer into the accord’s “Green Fund” to subsidize poorer nations in their forced energy transformation efforts.
President Trump’s statement one year ago today on the Paris pullout comprised 2,500 words. Here are some highlights:
- “Compliance with the terms of the Paris Accord and the onerous energy restrictions it has placed on the United States could cost America as much as 2.7 million lost jobs by 2025 according to the National Economic Research Associates.”
- “China will be able to increase these emissions by a staggering number of years—13…. Not us. India makes its participation contingent on receiving billions and billions and billions of dollars in foreign aid from developed countries.”
- “China will be allowed to build hundreds of additional coal plants. So we can’t build the plants, but they can, according to this agreement. India will be allowed to double its coal production by 2020…. Even Europe is allowed to continue construction of coal plants.”
- “Even if the Paris Agreement were implemented in full, with total compliance from all nations, it is estimated it would only produce a two-tenths of one degree—think of that; this much—Celsius reduction in global temperature by the year 2100…. In fact, 14 days of carbon emissions from China alone would wipe out the gains from America … in the year 2030.”
- “The [Paris Accord’s] Green Fund would likely obligate the United States to commit potentially tens of billions of dollars of which the United States has already handed over $1 billion…. In 2015, the Green Climate Fund’s executive director reportedly stated that estimated funding needed would increase to $450 billion per year after 2020. And nobody even knows where the money is going to.”
- “The risks [of the Paris Accord] grow as historically these agreements only tend to become more and more ambitious over time. In other words, the Paris framework is a starting point—as bad as it is—not an end point.”
- “… exiting the agreement protects the United States from future intrusions on the United States’ sovereignty and massive future legal liability. Believe me, we have massive legal liability if we stay in.”
The case against the Paris Agreement has only grown stronger as its “worthless words,” as Hansen called them, have run up against the reality of a business-as-usual mineral-energy world. China and India are going big with coal. The European Union’s CO2 emissions are rising. And a globally-connected natural-gas world emerging from the shale-gas boom is locking in a fossil-fuel-future for decades to come.
“The president made a tremendously courageous decision by saying we’re going to get out of the Paris Accord, put America first, and make sure that we lead with action and not words,” stated EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. In fact, Trump’s announcement goes down as one of the greatest single energy-policy moments in recent history, joining President Reagan’s oil price-and-allocation decontrol order of January 1981, which ended the Nixon-to-Carter energy crisis.
May the Paris Agreement continue to unravel and go the way of the ill-fated Kyoto Protocol of 1997. And may energy consumers and taxpayers win to help make the world, not only the U.S., great.