By Peter Van Voorhis
Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump promised voters that he would put “America First” in the international stage. In November, tens of millions of Americans voted to end the policies of President Obama, which many felt put the interests of the world ahead of their own. President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord doesn’t simply fulfill a major campaign promise; it represents America’s first bold step toward putting the American people first.
Despite the doom and gloom rhetoric from radical environmentalists, the accord would have done almost nothing to prevent any warming. Researchers at MIT stated that the Paris Accord would only reduce temperature rise by 0.2 degrees by 2100, even if every single country in the agreement abided perfectly by the rules.
In 1997, the United Nations organised member countries to sign the Kyoto Protocol, which aimed to curb global emissions to significantly below 1990 levels. In that time period, global emissions rose by more than 35%.
As we saw with the Kyoto Protocol, even industrialised countries have been largely unable to abide by the agreement. Only a few years after the treaty took effect, Canada announced it would withdraw from the protocol, citing their inability to meet agreed upon emissions targets, and desire to avoid the associated $14B fine. Other countries like Russia also decided to not fulfil their obligations, effectively removing them from participating in the agreement.
According to the United Nations, only 77 of the 193 original signers have ratified the Doha Amendment, which sets emissions targets for 2013-2020. To become international law, 144 countries will need to sign the agreement, which sets emissions standards for less than three more years.
Ironically, Japan, the country where the treaty was initially adopted, announced in 2011 that they would not accept new Kyoto regulations going forward.
A few years after the United States Senate rejected the treaty on a unanimous 95-0 vote, President Bush announced he would refuse to move forward with the Kyoto Protocol, calling it an agreement that would “harm our economy and hurt our workers.” President Bush rightly believed that ratifying the treaty would have little impact on the environment, and would do more harm than good to the United States.
Sixteen years later, President Trump told the American people that the Paris Climate Accord would do more harm than good to the American worker.
According to economist Stephen Moore, since 2005, the United States’ CO2 emissions have decreased by 10%, despite never having ratified the Kyoto Protocol. Another recent study by Heritage highlights the massive benefits of the energy revolution, which has created hundreds of thousands of well-paying jobs, lowered energy prices significantly for working families, and increased tax revenues, all while significantly lowering our emissions.
The Paris Accord was not just a veritable death sentence for American jobs. Its strict regulations would have stalled much needed progress on developing clean fuel technologies, which represents the best hope for actionable progress. America’s innovations in clean coal, fracking, and other new technologies represents the future of clean, affordable, global energy, not some unenforceable international resolution.
On November 8, 2016, I did not cast my ballot for Donald Trump, instead opting to select who I felt was a more conservative alternative. While I still maintain some of my original criticisms of the president in certain areas, Trump’s decision to prioritise the American people, despite false and widespread international outrage against his decision, was nothing less than commendable.
According to the Heritage Foundation, a think tank based in Washington DC, 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.
This agreement would have disproportionately affected the poorest Americans, with no meaningful progress made towards reducing warming. Unlike the Kyoto Treaty, the Paris Accord is just such, an accord. It is not enforceable, and will do nothing to stop the worst polluters.
President Trump’s decision to not sign the Paris Accord was not a retreat from global American leadership; it was a reassertion of it. While leaders of so many countries around the world fail to meet their international obligations, America has forged ahead with a bold vision for energy leadership across the globe. Spreading innovative American energy technology and progress across the globe is the best way to lift up the world’s poor, not token aid payments and unenforceable international agreements.
If we really value people over politics, then President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Accord was the best decision for not just the American people, but for all people.
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