When the Paris climate agreement was signed in April 2016, it was touted by the Obama administration and a vast array of its climate-alarmist proponents as a supreme victory for the global environmental movement. Now, a little more than a year later, the agreement that had effectively been in the works for nearly a decade in one form or another is dead, and with it, much of President Barack Obama’s climate-change legacy.
Americans of every stripe should celebrate the Paris agreement’s demise, for it represents a stunning victory for taxpayers and middle- and lower-income families and the elevation of science over irrational fears about the future of Earth’s climate.
The Paris climate agreement required the United States to cut its carbon dioxide emissions by 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. To meet this target, the United States would have had to reduce its emissions by such a radical extent that virtually every aspect of American life would have been negatively impacted.
Mandates would have forced the closure of many of the least-expensive power plants nationwide, raising energy prices at a time of tepid economic growth and sky-high deficits. Manufacturers, domestic energy producers, and countless related industries would have been driven out of business or forced to significantly scale back their operations while taxpayer-subsidized, inefficient, high-cost renewable-energy industries thrived—all at the expense of everyday Americans.
Under the Paris agreement, major economic and geopolitical competitors—including China, India, and Russia—would have been allowed to grow their low-cost carbon dioxide emissions while the United States would have been forced to implement draconian cuts, making their economies comparatively more attractive to corporations looking to slash costs and significantly reducing Americans’ ability to compete in an increasingly global marketplace.
Despite the Paris agreement’s immense costs, the treaty’s proponents insist it is a necessary step forward in the alleged battle against human-caused climate change. But even the U.N. Environment Programme, a noted climate alarmist agency, admitted on its own website the treaty would deliver no meaningful environmental improvements.
According to the United Nations’ post-Paris analysis, if all the parties to the agreement were to meet their promised emissions goals, the Paris treaty would result in less than half the greenhouse gas cuts required to halt temperatures at an upper limit of 2 degrees Celsius. Even if one believes human greenhouse gas emissions are driving dangerous climate change—and we think the best science shows they aren’t—the Paris agreement would not have prevented one iota of rising temperatures, sea levels, or instances of extreme weather.
Climate alarmists, including some within the White House, have told the president any rollback of the Paris agreement would have detrimental political consequences for the president. Thankfully, Trump was not swayed by these empty threats. There was absolutely no political upside for Trump to reverse course on his campaign promise to exit the Paris agreement. Had he done so, left-wing environmentalists would not have suddenly fallen in love with Trump, and the “swamp” Republican establishment wouldn’t have warmly embraced him either.
However, what would have unquestionably occurred had Trump kept the Paris treaty alive is there would have been a tidal wave of criticism from climate skeptics and working class Americans, turning some of the president’s closest allies into his fieriest critics.
By rejecting climate alarmists’ sky-is-falling political fear mongering, Trump adamantly declared he isn’t interested in being bullied by the anti-science, redistributionist zealots on the left. Instead, Trump is standing alongside entrepreneurs, business owners, and working American families, many of whom voted for Trump in November, in declaring with one voice that U.S. climate and energy policies ought to put America first.
H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. is a Heartland Institute research fellow on environmental policy and managing editor of Environment & Climate News.
Justin Haskins (@JustinTHaskins) is executive editor and a research fellow at The Heartland Institute.