Yesterday, US President Trump announced he will withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. The essence of his argument, articulated in the speech above, seemed to be the following:
“China will be allowed to build hundreds of additional coal plants. So we can’t build the plants, but they can, according to this agreement. India will be allowed to double its coal production by 2020. Think of it: India can double their coal production. We’re supposed to get rid of ours. Even Europe is allowed to continue construction of coal plants.”
The full transcript of the above can be read here.
In 2015, 188 countries signed the agreement established during a conference in the French capital. Every nation signed except two: Syria and Nicaragua. In signing the accord, countries pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but were given country-specific arrangements in how much they planned to reduce them by. And the arrangement was quite different per country. Back then, US President Obama had a major role in the deal. He called it the “single best chance that has to deal with a problem that could end up transforming this planet”, and for his efforts, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon praised Obama for what he called “inspiring” leadership.
And then Donald Trump happened. Fresh from his Middle East- and Euro-trip, he first made the announcement that he could very well withdraw from the agreement. And today he actually did.
I will be announcing my decision on Paris Accord, Thursday at 3:00 P.M. The White House Rose Garden. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 1 juni 2017
And now people around the world deem him the devil. For instance, President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker blasted Trump by ranting:
“It doesn’t work like that. It’s not just about the future of humanity in Europe; above all, it’s about the future of people everywhere. 83 countries are at risk of disappearing from the map as sea levels rise if we are not resolute in initiating the fight against climate change.”
Still, there is something to say in favour of Trump’s decision. In a peer-reviewed paper by Dr Bjorn Lomborg published in the Global Policy Journal (November 2015), the actual impact of all significant climate promises made ahead of the Paris climate summit were measured. And the results of Dr Lomborg’s research concluded that the effects of the Paris agreements would be nihil:
- The climate impact of the agreement is minuscule: if we measure the impact of every nation fulfilling every promise by 2030, the total temperature reduction will be 0.048°C by 2100.
- If every nation fulfils every promise by 2030 and continues to fulfil these promises faithfully until the end of the century, and there is no ‘CO₂ leakage’ to non-committed nations, the entirety of the Paris promises will reduce temperature rises by just 0.17°C by 2100.
And should you think, who is this Dr Lomborg? Well, he is connected to the Copenhagen Consensus on Climate Project, which gathered 27 of the world’s top climate economists and three Nobel Laureates (No, Obama is not one of them).
But for Trump, who is not a fan of the ‘man-induced global warming theory’, there is another main reason why he stepped out. According to Phil Kerpen of the American Commitment thinktank;
“the temperature drop is already nihil if all countries stick to the agreement and reduce their emissions, but for instance, Germany had a raise in their emissions over the last two years (…) and for the US there is tremendous downside, because this agreement locks in the Clean Power Plan which increases electricity prices about twenty to thirty percent, that has a very negative impact on consumers across the United States, and it also commits the American taxpayer to pay the lion share of the $100 billion per year Green Climate Fund which is a direct wealth transfer to the rest of the world. That’s why the world likes this deal so much, because the US cripples itself economically with regulations, and then it pays the rest of the world for the privilege of doing so. this is not leadership, this is American loser-ship.”
— Warren (@warrendix3) 2 juni 2017
And today Trump said the same thing: “The agreement would weaken our economy, hamstring our workers, damage our sovereignty (…) we will renegotiate the deals.” Stepping out of the arrangement will take years of negotiations, as he said to either “re-enter or to start a new agreement.” It could all still very well be that Trump is using his same tactics as he did with NATO by saying he wanted out with the sole purpose of making a better deal for the Americans.
Lomborg and his team found that the smartest, long-term climate policy is to invest in green R&D, to push down the price of green energy. Let’s hope Trump agrees, and invests some of the saved money from the withdrawal, into this.