NOTE: For a more in-depth look at this issue, read Dr. Allen’s January 18th article “We Won’t Always Have Paris: Climate treaty reveals global elites’ dishonesty, extremism, lack of intelligence.”
This article previously appeared in The Hill.
President Donald Trump has inherited eight years of disastrous environmental policy. He should move as far away as possible from the Obama agenda.
His work should start with the Paris Agreement, which went into effect in November aiming to “combat climate change [and] assist developing countries to do so” through the Green Climate Fund, a redistribution operation under United Nations auspices that sends developed countries’ money to poorer countries or, really, to ruling elites in poorer countries. President Obama ignored the Constitution’s requirement that treaties require Senate approval and unilaterally “ratified” the Paris Agreement, which commits the United States to reduce carbon dioxide emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. Meanwhile, he pledged $3 billion over four years to the Green Climate Fund, where the money will theoretically help developing countries reduce their carbon dioxide emissions. (Of this amount, he was able to transfer $1 billion before leaving office.) This deal gives America the short end of the stick, and lets other countries take advantage.
The Communist Chinese promised to reduce emissions starting in 2030, with 20 percent of the country’s electricity supposed to come from non-carbon sources by that year. Targeted emissions relative to the size of the economy would be reduced by 60-65 percent from the 2005 level, which means that China’s carbon emissions numbers would actually go up until 2030. In essence, China pledged only to achieve changed emissions that were most likely coming anyway.
The U.S. government’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory already projects that China’s targeted emissions would peak around 2030, notes Oren Cass of the Manhattan Institute, while a Bloomberg analysis shows that the reduction by 2030 relative to the size of China’s economy is less than what was expected without the Paris treaty.
The same goes for India, which promised to reduce targeted emissions by 33-35 percent by 2030 relative to the size of their economy. That promise, even if kept, is no more than what would have happened without the Paris treaty. But it didn’t stop the Indian government from claiming that, to follow through, it needs the rest of the world to give it $2.5 trillion—almost $2,000 per Indian, and a sum almost 25 percent larger than India’s entire economy.
Contrast China’s and India’s trifling promises with President Obama’s attempts to shut down the U.S. coal industry and all coal-fired power plants, a self-inflicted wound utterly unmatched in the rest of the world. As of 2015, there were 510 coal-fired power plants under construction in the world with a further 1,874 planned—a total of 2,384. China accounted for 136 under construction and an additional 639 planned, while India had 177 under construction and 539 more planned. Since 2005, China has seen a 69 percent increase in its artificial carbon dioxide emissions and India’s increase surpassed 50 percent, while the U.S. has reduced its carbon dioxide emissions by 13 percent—largely due to fracking and the increased use of natural gas.
To what end? According to the Heritage Foundation, a climate model by the National Center for Atmospheric Research indicates that, if the U.S. eliminated all artificial carbon dioxide emissions, the effect on global temperatures would be less than two-tenths of a degree on the Celsius scale. Eliminating all artificial carbon dioxide emissions throughout the entire industrialized world would have an effect of less than four-tenths of a degree.
What is more, if the U.S. abides by the Paris treaty and President Obama’s vision, the ensuing environmental regulations would cost thousands of American jobs. The Heritage Foundation used the National Energy Modeling System 2015—a computer model created by the U.S. Department of Energy—to project that the Paris treaty would mean a loss of nearly 400,000 jobs (including more than 200,000 manufacturing jobs), cause a hike of 13-20 percent in household electricity prices, and cost the national economy $2.5 trillion by 2035.
The Paris treaty would mean a loss of nearly 400,000 jobs and a hike of 13-20 percent in household electricity prices.
That’s a lot of pain for no gain. Renegotiating bad deals starts with the Paris treaty.
Dr. Steven J. Allen is Vice President and Chief Investigative Officer of the Capital Research Center, America’s investigative think tank.