If President Donald Trump merely pulls the United States out of the Paris Agreement on climate change, it will be like cutting the head off a dandelion. It will look good for a while until equally bad agreements quickly grow back when a Democrat occupies the White House again. Trump needs to dig up the roots of Paris—the 1992 U.N. climate treaty—if he is to keep his campaign promise to “stop all payments of the United States tax dollars to UN global warming programs.”
Trump can, and should, get the US out of the Paris Agreement, of course. Besides the scientifically unfounded objective of “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels,” as if we had a global thermostat, the agreement lets so-called developing countries largely off the hook despite the fact that non-OECD countries are now the greatest source of energy-related emissions. Consider the agreement’s emission targets for the US versus China, currently the world’s largest emitter, for example:
- The Obama administration agreed to an economy-wide target of reducing US greenhouse gas (82% of which is carbon dioxide (CO2)) emissions by 26%-28% below its 2005 level in 2025.
- China agreed “to achieve the peaking of CO2 emissions around 2030” and to other measures such as those designed to increase the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption. Taking into consideration expected economic growth in China and other factors, their target translates into about a 70% increase above its 2005 level in 2025.
Yet writing in the Chicago Tribune, Paul Bodnar, a Special Assistant to former-President Obama and a key architect of the 2014 US-China deal (which has the same emission targets as Paris), echoes the position of many opinion leaders when he asserted, “The Paris Agreement…puts China, India, and other emerging markets on equal footing with the United States.”
Obviously, nothing could be further from the truth.