The idea of man-made climate change as an imminent danger is currently a very big topic throughout the world community. While there have been many steps towards reducing pollution and emissions, government elites across nations of the world thought it would be advantageous to enter into a world-wide agreement on the reduction of predominantly CO2 emissions. Hence, in 2015 United Nations Framework on Climate Change (UNFCC) gave the world the Paris Climate Accord. Recently President Trump has pulled the United States out of the agreement, stating it would not achieve the actual goal of reducing CO2 enough for the cost and it would hurt the American economy. Many critics of the accords have also stated it would do very little in the way of actually preventing global warming or climate change. Is this assertion founded in logic or misguided? Let’s look at the facts.
The Paris Climate Accord has four major goals:
- To keep global temperatures "well below" 2.0C (3.6F) above pre-industrial times and "endeavor to limit" them even more, to 1.5C
- To limit the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by human activity to the same levels that trees, soil, and oceans can absorb naturally, beginning at some point between 2050 and 2100
- To review each country's contribution to cutting emissions every five years so they scale up to the challenge
- For rich countries to help poorer nations by providing "climate finance" to adapt to climate change and switch to renewable energy.
This Paris Accord was created to replace the Kyoto Protocol which was deemed a failure when the United States failed to ratify it, and China was exempted from it as they were classified as a “developing nation”. Canada also dropped out of the Kyoto Protocol as reported by CNN, “Environment Minister Peter Kent says Kyoto's goals are unworkable because the United States and China never agreed to Kyoto, and that a new pact is needed to address emissions.” The western world was eager to resurrect a Climate Agreement in light of the Kyoto Protocol collapse.
The United States has been scolded by the United Nations and world leaders as one of the leading contributors to man-made climate change routinely citing the US greenhouse gas emission rates continue to rise. This was proven false by The Heritage Foundation, an organization that considers policy. Heritage reported this on the United States being the leading producer of greenhouse gases “Instead, since 2005, our [the United States] emissions are down by roughly 10 percent and almost twice that amount on a per capita basis.” When examining the data closer, green energy was not the main contributor to this decrease in emissions, rather an increase in low emission natural gas usage. According to Heritage, “The game-changer for the U.S. has been the shale oil and gas revolution over the past six years brought about through new smart drilling technologies. The U.S. is now the largest natural gas producer in the world. And as America has produced more natural gas, we have shifted away from coal. This, according to the Energy Information Administration, accounts for more than 60 percent of the carbon emission reductions in the United States.”
It is important to note as well that the Paris Accord would be destructive to the United States economy, creating a huge tax burden for the already debt-saddled taxpayer. According to Heritage, “the Paris Agreement would have cost the American economy $2.5 trillion dollars by 2035, with a total loss of income of $20,000 for a family of four over the same time period. Household electricity costs would have risen 13-20% more, while nearly 3,000,000 American workers would have lost their jobs.” These harmful economic effects are due to the sudden changes in the energy sector of the American economy in both the short and the long term. Regardless of whether you are a Conservative Republican or a Liberal Democrat, these economic impacts would devastate every working class/middle class American and affect the ability to actually execute on the terms of the Accord in the first place.
This is not an argument that we should all abandon being stewards to our environment, or that we should purposefully destroy the earth. What I am saying is that we need to be careful with how we approach combatting climate change. Lining the pockets of wealthy bureaucrats in the name of environmentalism is not the answer. We should not have to make extreme economic sacrifices in order to save the planet. We should invest more heavily in Nuclear Power, energy farming as well as natural gas production. These three methods of producing energy would produce more energy for a cheaper price with fewer emissions. For example, nuclear power on average only produces 29 tonnes of CO2/GWh, whereas oil produced 733 tonnes/GWh and Coal 888 tonnes/GWh. Natural gas also produced significantly fewer emissions at 499 tonnes/GWh than oil or coal. Above that, nuclear power has developed increasingly since the Chernobyl Accident in 1986 (which was caused by a flawed reactor design and inadequately trained personnel) and is now extremely safe and effective.
Each country should examine what works economically before we dedicate to giving money to global organizations that ultimately doesn’t cause any significant change. The Kyoto Protocol was a form of international law, which was signed by 192 countries. During the Protocols enforcement, emissions globally have not gone down in the numbers that environmentalists wanted to see even as it was mandatory for hundreds of nations. Why would the Paris Accord be any different for a voluntary agreement in which policies aren’t required to be instituted? In the end, it was a blessing for the American Public and bust for the policy-making elite that President Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris Climate Accords, as it would have a devastating impact on the economy. The advancement of technology in renewable energy such as solar and wind will eventually become economical at a large scale replacing the need for oil and coal, the biggest offenders of CO2 emissions. This will be driven by innovation and the consumer.