Paris Agreement Climate Change

Paris Climate Agreement Wasn't Going to Save the Planet

So America's withdrawal won't lead to global doom.

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It's not surprising that President Trump is nuts on climate change. For years he has called global warming a hoax and a conspiracy that the Chinese invented

Global Warming
John Englart Takver via Foter.com

to "make American manufacturing non-competitive." And on Thursday after spewing more us versus them paranoia about how the world is happy that America signed this agreement because it put "our country, the United States of America, that we all love, at a very great disadvantage," he made the case to withdraw from the Paris Agreement with his typical intellectual rigor: "Believe me, this is not what we need."

None of Trump's climate crazy talk, however, justifies the liberal hysteria over America's imminent withdrawal from the Paris agreement.

This accord was never going to save the planet — and hence, dumping it won't doom the Earth. If anything, it might trigger a search for realistic and workable fixes that don't involve putting the entire human race on an energy diet.

The environmental community was giddy with excitement over the 2015 Paris Agreement because the two major efforts before it — Kyoto in 1997 and Copenhagen in 2009 — went up in flames when the three major polluters (the United States, China, and India) accused each other of not doing enough to slash emissions and walked out.

Paris, however, embraced a different tactic. Instead of imposing emission cuts on nations from the top down, it asked each one to voluntarily put its best foot forward. The hope was that this would spur a race to the top as each country avoided skimping on cuts because it didn't want to look cheap. The other very big advantage of this approach was that because the reductions were voluntary, the agreement was arguably not a treaty. Hence President Obama could consent to it unilaterally without asking the Republican Senate to ratify it, which would never have happened.

But even at the time, British environmental writer Fred Pearce pointed out that Paris was "a victory for diplomacy that should not be confused with a victory for climate." That's because even if each nation religiously delivered on its promised cuts, the Earth would still end up 2.7 degrees centigrade hotter by the end of the century — 0.7 degrees more than what enviros believe is necessary to prevent the Earth from turning into a baked Cinnabon.

This is at least in part because nations used the Paris agreement to commit to watered-down emissions reduction plans. China, for example, promised only to reduce "emission intensity" — or emissions as a percentage of GDP — not actual emissions, at least until it reached peak emissions in 2030. India, likewise, committed to cutting carbon intensity — but only at half the rate of China's. Trump's favorite dictator, Vladimir Putin, put forth an emissions reduction plan that was actually an emissions increase plan. The United States pledged to cut emissions, but its targets were lower than those on the table in Copenhagen.

And remember, there is no guarantee that countries will achieve even these lame reductions. Committing plans to paper does not mean actually fulfilling them.

India, for example, has been praised for developing "the most ambitious renewable energy program in the world." It involves generating 40 percent of its installed electric power capacity from renewables. That includes 100 gigawatts of solar capacity that, Pearce points out, would be equivalent to replacing 100 large conventional power plants. But whether India, literally half of whose 1.3 billion-strong population lacks rudimentary access to electricity, will stick to this plan given its vast coal reserves is an open question. Indeed, India's leaders are notorious for saying one thing to the world and doing something quite different, even when it's in their country's interest to stick to their word. Consider India's pledge to meet by 2015 the Millennium Development Goals of eradicating poverty and hunger, cutting maternal mortality, attaining gender parity, and other good stuff. How did that work out? Even according to the country's dubious official figures, it missed many of its targets by that deadline.

Even a country like America, with a more functional government (at least until Trump took it over), was unlikely to deliver.

A big part of President Obama's climate action plan was to cut emissions from the transportation sector, which accounts for about a quarter of America's greenhouse gases. To achieve that goal he doubled the CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards for automakers from 25.5 miles per gallon in 2010 to 54.5 mpg by 2025.

This is and always was a huge scam.

CAFE requires car companies to lower the fuel economy not of each car model, but the average across their entire fleet. Furthermore, the reductions count against the vehicles manufactured, not those sold. So given that the popularity of gas-guzzling vehicles, such as SUVs, continues to rise in the face of falling fuel prices, what are car companies, especially American ones for whom SUVs are top sellers, doing? Essentially, they manufacture battery-powered and hybrid vehicles that don't sell so that they can meet their CAFE requirements to produce SUVs that do. It's like buying indulgences from the EPA to commit sins against the environment.

Detroit News auto writer Henry Payne has pointed out that the market share of SUVs grew 15 percent between 2010 and 2015. So it made sense that American automakers ramped up production of these vehicles. What doesn't make sense is that they also ramped up production of battery-powered hybrids during that time, given that their market share had flat-lined at 2.2 percent.

The upshot in the pre-Paris world was that actual fuel economy of vehicles on the road barely budged even as CAFE standards went up. There is no reason to believe the post-Paris world would be any different.

To the extent that America meets its emissions reduction targets, it won't be because of artificial mandates by government regulators, but technologies that organically emerge in energy markets. For example, the fracking revolution — that no bureaucrat saw coming and that the government actively stymied — has allowed America to switch from coal to natural gas for electricity generation. Natural gas emits only half as much carbon dioxide as coal — and it's also cheaper. That's why it did not have to be jammed down consumers' throats through mandates and subsidies.

Global warming cannot and should not be fought by massive international agreements. The battle will only be won when America's technology and energy sectors develop innovative solutions that present consumers with cleaner energy options that are obviously cheaper and better than what exists today. The Paris Agreement is so fixated on blaming and punishing humans because enviros barely care about finding solutions that would meet their needs. Should Trump's withdrawal cause the deal to collapse, it might finally signal to climate change warriors that they have to look for fixes that work with — not against — humans, even if they are to blame for the problem in the first place.

Lord knows that there is much to worry about when it comes to this administration's global policies, especially its ill-advised rhetoric demonizing NAFTA and other trade agreements. But dumping the phony Paris accord is not among them.

This column originally appeared in The Week

NEXT: Did Conservatives Replace a 'Red Scare' with a 'Green Scare'?

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  1. But Trump is literally worse than Hitler!!!1!1!

    Isn’t he?

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  2. This is the closest a Reason article has gotten to unequivocally supporting the pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement. Paul Ryan is looking like a free market radical in comparison to Reason at this point

  3. Wait a minute!

    “California politics updates: Gov. Jerry Brown goes to China to affirm climate change alliance”
    […]
    “Gov. Jerry Brown said this week a decision by President Trump to withdraw from the Paris accord on climate was “insane.” He is now in China to reaffirm California’s climate change stance.”
    http://www.latimes.com/politic…..story.html

    1. Because he knows how committed China is to a cleaner environment. He doesn’t want to let them down.

    2. Because California isn’t broke enough yet.

    3. But remember, the rest of the world is laughing at Trump.

    4. See, this is the shit that pisses me off – all these people saying they don’t give a shit if Trump pulls out of the Paris Accords, they’re still going to go ahead and pursue those objectives on their own. There’s nothing that stopped you from pursuing those goals on your own for the last 20 years, you fucking retards. This is more of this “I’ll gladly pay more taxes if you hold a gun to my head” bullshit like with Warren Buffet and other rich libs claiming they think it would be fair for them to pay more taxes – you’ve got a checkbook and a pen, nothing’s stopping you from paying more taxes right this minute, asshole.

      1. A million times this.

        If this is such a fucking pressing matter, then do something on your own. Change YOUR own behavior because a large portion of the disdain for environmentalists is that they tend to pollute way more than the plebs they love to lecture about waste.

        1. You’re good if you keep your carbon footprint under 1 Gore.

          1. Most small towns emit less than 1 Gore.

          2. I am emitting several kiloGores after the bean burrito I just ate.

      2. If you like your carbon footprint, you can keep your carbon footprint.

      3. yes. Why does it take an official commitment to voluntary measures? It is nothing more than a purity pledge that will be broken at the first fall dance.

  4. President Trump is nuts on climate change.

    To be sure.

  5. Even a country like America, with a more functional government (at least until Trump took it over), was unlikely to deliver.

    Oh, you think the government was more “functional” under Obama or Bush? Pray, explain. What the fuck was “functional” about the U.S. government back then?

    1. Libertarians like a government that is efficient in violating your rights.

      For freedom and stuff.

    2. I don’t always like a government, but when I do, I prefer dysfunctional.

  6. As a “hysterical” liberal, I’m less concerned that climate targets will be met and more concerned that Trump, history’s greatest dealmaker, has made the US look so fucking stupid that people are looking to China to be the new global leader. Well done, fuckface.

    And you don’t have to defend Trump and his every inexplicably ridiculous action. Nobody else is.

    1. Tony|6.6.17 @ 10:31AM|#
      “As a “hysterical” liberal, I’m less concerned that climate targets will be met and more concerned that Trump, history’s greatest dealmaker, has made the US look so fucking stupid that people are looking to China to be the new global leader”

      No one makes liberals look as stupid as you do.
      Fuck off, imbecile.

    2. Yes, the world is going to turn to China to lead the world, because of the weather. No one is going to listen to the guy with the guns and money.

      I wonder how the Chinese are going to protect the Europeans from Russia?

      This has got to be the most asinine take that the Left has been pushing

    3. Please. With the US and its money out, the rest of the world will drop one by one. Nobody gives a shit about this stuff except the cronies that are trying to get rich off it.

      1. *ding* Winner. This was always about the money and power.

    4. has made the US look so fucking stupid that people are looking to China to be the new global leader

      Who cares? Why should there be a “global leader” in the first place? And anybody who believes that China will do anything that isn’t in their own best-interest is a bigger moron than Trump. The Paris climate treaty is every bit as meaningless as the Kyoto Protocol was. It’s posturing and nothing more.

    5. As a “hysterical” liberal, I’m less concerned that climate targets will be met and more concerned that Trump, history’s greatest dealmaker, has made the US look so fucking stupid that people are looking to China to be the new global leader. Well done, fuckface.

      Oh boy, I HOPE the international community lets China run the show.

      Serves those fucking idiots right.

      Out of curiosity, Tony, do you know what country actually has more issues with air pollution, the US or China?

    6. It’s a well known fact that international accords are responsible for the majority of expensive international boondoggles, booze cruises and unethical luxury gift giving.

      Won’t somebody thing of the white men who won’t be getting free room service anymore?

    7. Re: Tony,

      As a “hysterical” liberal, I’m less concerned that climate targets [sic] will be met[…]

      I do find the idea that there can be such a thing as a climate “target” (or a goal) as if we’re talking about strategic planning and KPIs, hysterical. In other words: I am laughing at you.

    8. The Euros and international elites never liked us “muricans much anyway. If you think they laugh at Trump, they laugh to themselves even harder when we try to be like them.

    9. Tony makes the argument from intimidation and social metaphysics.

      1. Translation: Tony is a liberal fascist.

  7. Stupid comments about Trump unnecessary. But conclusion is right on and aligns with what Bjorn Lomberg said in his interview with Nick Gillespie published June 2.

  8. Shikha left out about 30% of the Paris Agreement’s contents in her superficial gloss.

    There are 3 components to the Paris Agreement;

    the first two are mostly bullshit promises to “try” reducing emissions, but ensures no one can really confirm* stuff is being done, and provides no enforcement mechanisms even if they’re faking it.

    The third actually requires real action.

    Basically, big rich countries promised to offer developing countries at least $100billion in cheap/free money, so long as they pinky-swore they’d do some green shit with it.

    to wit=

    The need to green all investments in all forms around the world has permeated the UN climate negotiations. The goal in the draft agreement states that finance flows should be consistent with a pathway towards low emission and climate resilient development, in the context of sustainable development priorities and efforts to eradicate poverty.

    At least $100 billion per year will be mobilised from public and private sources to help developing countries mitigate and adapt to climate change by 2020, and a new bigger goal is to be agreed by 2025.

    that may not sound like much, but it also incentivized financial institutions to kick in to the fund “voluntarily” (read: as bakshish mainly; cost of doing business without interference)

    she also doesn’t mention the potential domestic liability exposure.

    1. You weren’t supposed to notice that.
      It ruins the whole narrative about this being just another trump ego trip.

      1. Obama already threw 3billion into the kitty and was promising ~10bn more per annum. basically the US was expected to be the #1 contriubtor to the “Green Fund”.

        It was going to eventually cost American taxpayers 10s of billions annually. Which is more than we spend on all our foreign aid put together. For what? So we could pretend to be forcing developing nations to do so “sustainably”. Which is really just cover for the Big Countries increasing their influence over smaller nations, and enabling back-door arm-twisting over a variety of things that have nothing to do with the temperature of the planet.

        It was going to enable crony-corruption of 3rd world scumbags on a scale that would make the Iraq Oil-for-Food scandal look like a Chuch bake-sale.

        1. Yes, that’s a lot of money but liberal guilt can’t be paid for with Venezuelan Bolivars.

    2. She’s not a native speaker of English, hence calls communists and nationalsocialists “liberals” because Republican prohibitionists started doing it during the 1932 election campaign.

      1. Yes, I’m sure whatever the rhetoric was in 1932 is exactly why she chooses the words she does………

        Seriously, do you hear yourself? And just WTF is your obsession with constant references to 1932? Almost everything out of your mouth is ‘GOProhibitonists’ and ‘1932 blah blah blah’.

        Do you see that as somehow clever?

  9. Also –

    if you wanted a very simple explanation for why so many countries wanted to do the (meaningless) climate deal…

    it was mainly a form of regulatory-capture. You do this ‘framework’ thing? and now you have something that everyone on earth can pretend is “doing something”. Never mind what that something is, *we’re doing it!*

    It was “if we do this now, it will prevent people complaining we need to do stuff later”.

    because, like the Israeli-Palestian “Roadmap”, once you’ve pretended to agree to agree about something, everyone else can insist that its vitally important to keep that structure in place. Without it, anarchy! Never mind that no one involved in the “agreement” is actually behaving in any way the slightest bit differently than they would have otherwise.

    It is similar to how Philip Morris has been pursuing getting tobacco regulated by the FDA. they knew, after the 1996 MSA, that more and more and more punative taxes and regulations were coming; so instead, just get one big agency to ‘own’ them, and in doing so, own the regulator. It would create the appearance of control without the substance. Blame the FDA! if you have a problem. it would also have the convenient result of freezing competition in place, preventing new entrants or innovation that would unseat their huge market-share position.

    basically, Paris was horseshit and anyone crying ‘Doom’ is a moron.

    1. It goes beyond that. Paris was something that we could ‘build’ on. Shit like this is how you lose sovereignty.

  10. One large comet or a nearby gamma ray burst or a tiny nova by the Sun and it doesn’t really make a difference what pieces of paper any of us have signed.

    1. Everything but the nova part is correct. And yet skywatch has the budget of a regional mcdonalds. Shows you how concerned the econazis really are about preserving the environment.

      1. It’s because Alvarez, the scientist who in 1989 explained that a bolide impact nuked the dinosaurs, had in 1945 developed the detonator wire for the “Jewish science” plutonium bomb dropped out of a clear blue sky on the peaceful hamlet of Hiroshima by racist Americans. Econazis and the CPUSA would rather be extinct than admit that Luis Alvarez was ever right about anything.

  11. To the extent that America meets its emissions reduction targets, it won’t be because of artificial mandates by government regulators, but technologies that organically emerge in energy markets.

    That ma be so, Shikha, but realizing that such goals are completely arbitrary should make you guess that any monitoring effort will be ripe for manipulation and number-massaging, because the whole idea is bullshit. How do you measure emissions, with a reasonable measure of accurateness? This is why the suspicion that the Chinese and Indian government (as I am sure, the German and Italian and French governments as well) lie about emissions all the time. The only thing you can do accurately, maybe, is measure the MIXTURE of gases from the atmosphere and that only after doing some sampling in several points around the globe.

    1. There’s a new satellite up last year that measures co2 emissions at every region all over the globe. It could monitor, broadly, individual contries’ emissions. Strangely, it hasn’t been reporting since its initial analysis found that emissions weren’t occurring where the consensus predicted.

      1. The consensus? All 18 econazi scientist impersonators?

  12. “Liberals Shouldn’t Sweat Trump’s Pull Out…”

    Is that one them there double entendres….Trump fucking liberals while the world melts. Real funny.

  13. Shikha says, “This is and always was a huge scam.”

    Oh, just this sliver is a hoax and the rest is settled science, right.

  14. …because the reductions were voluntary, the agreement was arguably not a treaty. Hence President Obama could consent to it unilaterally…

    That would only be true if Obama had signed up the “voluntary” targets for the US government. Since the treaty was meant to apply to US companies, it had to be approved by the Senate.

    1. Woodrow Wilson had a similar problem. Here is a Versailles Treaty and League of Nations clause nobody mentions: “2. Germany further accords to the Reparation Commission an option to require delivery during the period from the date of the coming into force of the present Treaty until January 1, 1920, and during each period of six months thereafter until January 1 , 1925, of any specified kind of dyestuff and chemical drug up to an amount not exceeding 25% of the German production of such dyestuffs and chemical drugs during the previous six months period. If in any case the production during such previous six months was, in the opinion of the Commission, less than normal, the amount required may be 25% of the normal production. …” WWI was over opium markets and European surrender documents were a dope and reparations grab. After the Chinese revolution barred morphine dumping, there was a glut and Balkan Wars escalated. Hece the war, hence the grab, hence America’s separate peace. The Treaty and League Covenant are online at many websites. This is verifiable stuff. But in 1920 the Senate, not Trump, was the evil obstructionist monster.

  15. The world is stunned, an elected official doing as promised during a campaign.

  16. The GOP platform independent of any candidate said BEFORE the candidates and election:
    1. We oppose any carbon tax.
    2. We support the development of all forms of energy that are marketable in a free economy without subsidies, including coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear power, and hydropower.
    3. We support expedited siting processes and the thoughtful expansion of the grid so that consumers and businesses continue to have access to affordable and reliable electricity.
    The Kenyan’s party, instead of a repeal prohibition plank, ran to Paris like Woodrow Wilson with an opium cartel League of Nations and also tried to circumvent the Senate with a non-treaty transferring sovereignty to National Socialist and International Socialist parasites in Europe. Trump had nothing to do with the thing. All he did was accept the job of shoving that platform down everyone’s throat. The GOP energy plank is their only plank that makes sense and is almost kind of libertarian in places. When was the last time you saw this mentioned anywhere?

  17. India, for example, has been praised for developing “the most ambitious renewable energy program in the world.” It involves generating 40 percent of its installed electric power capacity from renewables.

    Costa Rica is at 90% + using Hydroelectric and has 4 or 5 % Geothermal.

    But being “praised for” and actually having “the most ambitious” are not the same thing.

    1. It’s Costa Rica, no one gives a fuck about it…..

  18. Well, NoShit Shinola!

  19. I believe in the greenhouse effect, as you can run an experiment and see how the trapped heat can contribute to a warming effect.

    At the same time, I disagree that the greenhouse effect plays a significant enough factor in global temperatures for us to do anything about it. Other factors, that are beyond are control, overwhelm the contribution of CO2 emissions. I think my climate scientists fully understand this, but know there’s lots of gov’t funding available and power in telling people how to live their lives. So I don’t think Trump is entirely wrong in calling global warming a hoax.

    Global CO2 emissions have increased roughly by 30% over the past decade while global temperatures have not moved in any statistical amount. Trump may be a doofus, but he’s getting some of the big stuff right, and I’ll take it.

    1. In all the comments I’ve seen so far, CO2’s been listed as a greenhouse gas, which it is NOT. Nothing’s been said about water vapor, which affects global temperatures much more than does CO2.
      The effects of higher CO2 levels are more and faster plant growth, especially trees. All plants inhale CO2 and exhale oxygen. This is bio-science 101. Without sufficient CO2, there wouldn’t be enough oxygen, and higher life forms wouldn’t survive, and this includes humans. Thus, the eradication of acres upon acres of rain forests poses a greater threat to global environments. Those rain forests must be reinstated.
      Outside of restoring rain forests, nobody has mentioned the Sun’s activity or lack thereof, which affects global temperatures the most. The Jurassic Period was one of the hottest periods in the last 300 million years, and there were no humans .. And, the Industrial Revolution didn’t happen until well into the 18th Century AD. These are what the “global warming” hoaxers fail to see.

  20. Author is right that it is more a diplomatic disappointment than an environmental one, though that is no small thing. But pulling out of the agreement was not necessary, given that there is no penalty for not meeting one’s targets. Clearly, Trump was merely going for some sort of America First symbolism or satisfying some sociopathic impulse. If he is allowed to get away with this, he’ll be in a stronger position to hammer something you care about.

  21. Do you know who else asked European countries to adopt the same policies “voluntarily”, resulting in an increased governmental role in society? (am I doing this game right? relatively new here…)

  22. The title and subtitle of this article are completely accurate. The withdrawal is a symbolic gesture to keep a campaign promise and make the fossil fuel friends of Trump happy. It also has a side effect of pissing off most of NATO.

  23. stop over production of useless, trashy, ‘consumer goods’

    trashy plastic christmas trees and ornaments.
    chairs, desks, tables, beds, and other household goods
    clothing, shoes, accessories.
    automobiles and related ‘accessories’
    computers, cameras, printers, radios, and other electronic devices.
    food.
    not to mention all sorts of decorative and create-a-purchaser goods that nobody needs or wants, until they see it.

    educate public in a meaningful way so that the stoppage on over producing does not mean we will all starve because there will be no jobs.

    overthrow the system. you are an advocate of reason. why do you not act in a meaningfully reasonable way. by informing your audience in clearly laid out, simply put, information articles. not over long diatribes of whatever.

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