Calling the Paris climate accord a bad deal for the American people, President Donald Trump announced the United States is withdrawing from the agreement 195 countries negotiated in December 2015.
At a June 1 press conference in the Rose Garden at the White House, Trump kept his campaign promise to withdraw from the accord, under which various countries agreed to impose individualized greenhouse-gas emissions reduction targets intended to prevent Earth from warming by more than 2 degrees Celsius by 2100.
Under the agreement, the United States was required to cut its carbon-dioxide emissions 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025 and provide billions of dollars in funding to the United Nations’ Green Climate Fund.
Numerous studies, including a NERA Economic Consulting report cited in Trump’s announcement, showed meeting the carbon-dioxide targets imposed on the United States under the Paris agreement would force the premature closing of many of the nation’s least-expensive power plants. NERA estimated meeting the nation’s obligations under the agreement would cost the U.S. economy nearly $3 trillion, and by 2040, the United States would have lost 6.5 million industrial-sector jobs, including 3.1 million manufacturing jobs.
Economic Competitors, Not Climate Benefit
Trump said the Paris agreement would allow major economic and geopolitical competitors—such as China, India, and Russia, who are among the world’s largest greenhouse-gas emitters—to continue expanding their emissions, making their economies comparatively more attractive to investment than the United States would be.
Even though the United States has already reduced its greenhouse-gas emissions by 12 percent since 2006, more than any other country, it would have had to cut emissions further and send money to other nations under the accord. The U.S. emission reductions achieved during the past few decades have been accomplished because of technological innovations and greater use of natural gas.
Despite the economic cost to the United States, the Paris treaty would have done little to prevent future warming, Trump claimed in his speech. Talking points provided by the Trump administration after the press conference in support of this claim cited a study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology showing if all member nations met their obligations, it would reduce global temperature rise by less than 0.2 degrees C in 2100.
The U.N. Environment Programme also found the treaty would have a negligible impact on climate change, with a 2016 report by the organization showing even if all the parties to the agreement were to meet their promised emissions targets, the Paris accord would result in less than half the greenhouse-gas cuts necessary to halt temperatures at an upper limit of 2 degrees C.
Joe Bast, president of The Heartland Institute, which publishes Environment & Climate News, praised Trump’s decision.
“President Trump made exactly the right call by deciding to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate treaty,” said Bast. “Staying in would make it impossible to implement his America First Energy Plan and result in U.S. taxpayers and consumers paying hundreds of billions of dollars in higher taxes and higher energy costs, solely for the benefit of crony capitalists in the renewable-energy industry and Third World dictators.
“Staying in would not benefit the global environment one whit, but instead, by impoverishing millions of people, would have exactly the opposite effect,” Bast said.
Tom Harris, executive director of the International Climate Science Coalition, said he hopes Trump’s decision to pull out of Paris will have a ripple effect.
“Now that the United States has withdrawn from the Paris climate agreement, I hope countries like my own homeland, Canada, follow America’s lead and put their citizens’ well-being ahead of the desires of anti-fossil-fuel activists and big-government bureaucrats.”
H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. ([email protected]) is a research fellow at The Heartland Institute.