This blog post was originally featured in The Hill on June 1, 2017
When at the G-7 Summit, President Trump signaled he was not yet ready to decide whether America should stay in or get out of the Paris climate agreement. The reaction from the media was predictably and energetically negative. Lost in the hollow chatter is the fact that a substantive discussion of this sweeping international agreement to decarbonize human society has been largely neglected. This discussion we must have, including the points below.
It limits energy independence. As residents of a state whose development of fracking technology has unlocked oil and natural gas reserves that exceed those of OPEC nations, we applauded Trump’s Executive Order 13783, on “Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth.” Adherence to the Paris climate agreement would stall or preclude unleashing American energy, a prodigious stimulant for economic growth.
It may not be legal. The legal status of the Paris deal is not settled. It currently drifts in a legally gray area. Is it an international agreement requiring only a presidential signature or is it a treaty requiring the Senate’s vote of approval? The law does not clearly indicate that the signature of one president can bind the U.S. beyond that president’s term of office. As the constitutional question remains, note that a global system of energy governance under U.N. auspices would adversely affect not just the energy sector but also the entire U.S. economy. And what percentage of U.S. citizens supports the U.N.’s global governance of any matter?
It may confound the global War on Terror. In his recent Saudi Arabia speech, Trump rightly declared that, when it comes to the survival of the free world, defeating Islamist terrorism is “history’s greatest test.” Our potential success on that test is threatened by the staggering financial cost of supplanting fossil fuels that now account for approximately 90 percent of the world’s energy consumption. Then there is the U.N.’s Green Climate Fund that assumes annual contributions of $100 billion from prosperous countries to help poor countries “combat climate change.”
It is designed to fail. The Paris agreement packs a double-sized wallop. Not only will it create a chokehold on economic growth, it will not actually reduce greenhouse gases enough to avoid the “dangerous warming” predicted by the models of the U.N.’s official Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. At the end of the day, the restrictions advanced by countries with little to lose and everything to gain from shackling the U.S. economy will ultimately prove destructive to all involved.
The EPA’s Clean Power Plan, fortunately, stalled in the courts, would mandate re-engineering our nation’s entire electric system from one controlled by cost, reliability and safety to a system controlled by the carbon content of the fuels. Yet this upheaval would only decrease the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s predicted rate of future warming by 0.02 percent. Statistically speaking, that amounts to nothing.
The most aggressive climate crusaders in the U.K. and Germany are actually increasing their greenhouse gas emissions while their retail electric rates are, respectively, two and three times higher than the average retail rate in the U.S. German media now characterizes electricity as a “luxury good” for middle and low-income families. The world’s energy future looks increasingly grim through the lens of Paris.
Instead of deferring to the status quo, we strongly encourage Trump to opt out of the Paris climate agreement. The U.S. needs time to conduct a vigorous assessment of current climate science, climate policies and the Paris agreement. Before we dismantle the energy systems that have vastly improved human welfare over the last two centuries, the American people deserve an alternative energy future that leverages American resources to protect real environmental quality, to enhance human well-being and to make the world a safer place.