On Thursday, President Trump made the first major move of his administration since the appointment of Judge Gorsuch to the Supreme Court: he withdrew from the Paris Accord, a non-treaty entered into by President Obama that committed the United States to serious economic deprivation in order to accomplish nearly nothing in terms of climate change. It’s true that Trump laid all that out in a well-written, fact-laden speech. The Left predictably went nuts — they’ve been lighting up buildings green (wasting energy) and quitting his economic council (who cares) and tweeting incessantly about the end of the world all day.
But Trump is right.
Here are five reasons why.
1. The Accord Was A Treaty, And President Obama Refused To Treat It Like One. President Obama joined the Paris Accord shortly before leaving office, but never sent the agreement to the Senate for ratification. There was good reason for that: it wouldn’t have been ratified. Instead, Obama simply assumed that America would now be bound by requirements to tamp down carbon emissions in serious ways. In his statement ripping Trump for pulling out of the agreement, for example, Obama stated, “the world came together in Paris around the first-ever global agreement to set the world on a low-carbon course and protect the world we leave to our children.” But none of that was true. Which meant that the accord was essentially symbolic, but would create a bevy of headlines about America abandoning global leadership every time we didn’t meet an arbitrary line not approved by the American people.
2. There Were Legal Implementation Problems With The Paris Accord. Donald McGahn, the White House counsel, spelled out that courts could theoretically use the Paris Accord to strike down Trump’s attempted rollback of carbon emissions regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency. The Left claimed that this was empty talk — no enabling legislation regarding the Paris Accord had been signed, so it was symbolic. But these are the same people who now say the world will burn up because we’ve pulled out of the accord, and the same people who think the courts should ignore law in order to strike down executive orders they don’t like.
3. It Would Have Had No Impact. Obama himself says, “The private sector already chose a low-carbon future.” So if that was true, what’s the need for governmental cram-downs, exactly? Beyond that, Trump is correct that MIT has estimated that even if the Paris Accord were implemented with current commitments by the various countries, the global climate would be lowered by a grand total of 0.2 degrees Celsius by the year 2100. Meanwhile, we’d put crippling regulations on our economy. MIT and the Left insist that other steps would follow the Paris Accord — but there’s no evidence of that.
4. It Let Other Countries Free-Ride. Obama said in his petulant statement, “It was bold American ambition that encouraged dozens of other nations to set their sights higher as well.” This is absolute nonsense. One of the reasons to be skeptical of the Paris Accord is that it asked nations for non-binding commitments on climate change. Non-binding. As Oren Cass pointed out at Commentary:
China committed to begin reducing emissions by 2030, roughly when its economic development would have caused this to happen regardless. India made no emissions commitment, pledging only to make progress on efficiency—at half the rate it had progressed in recent years. Pakistan outdid the rest, submitting a single page that offered to “reduce its emissions after reaching peak levels to the extent possible.” This is a definition of the word “peak,” not a commitment. … An April report by Transport Environment found only three European countries pursuing policies in line with their Paris commitments and one of those, Germany, has now seen two straight years of emissions increases. The Philippines has outright renounced its commitment. A study published by the American Geophysical Union warns that India’s planned coal-plant construction is incompatible with its own targets. All this behavior is socially acceptable amongst the climate crowd. Only Trump’s presumption that the agreement means something, and that countries should be forthright about their commitments, is beyond the pale.
5. It Put America Last. Obama and the Left have claimed for years that “green jobs” will be produced by government. There is no evidence of that happening. It’s a chimera. Van Jones, Obama’s “green jobs czar,” couldn’t point to any job creation for which he was responsible. We do know that additional regulations would cripple key industries in the United States without making up for them with these magical new “investments.” The private sector, as Obama recognizes, is already moving toward more efficient energy solutions. But this agreement wasn’t about forwarding that. It was about creating public pressure for the US government to intervene in its own economy, without requiring anything of those with whom we compete.
Good for Trump. The Paris Accord was a meaningless sham, designed mainly to shame the United States into harming its own economy for the vicarious pleasure of others.