The Paris climate agreement’s ‘charade’

Oren Cass uses a National Review Online column to place the flawed Paris climate agreement in perspective.

Even before President Trump had completed his announcement that the United States would withdraw from the Paris Accord on climate change, howls of disbelief and outrage went up from proponents of the agreement. But the critical dynamic underlying the 2015 Accord, willfully ignored by its advocates, is that major developing countries offered “commitments” for emissions reduction that only mirrored their economies’ existing trajectories. Thus, for instance, China committed to reaching peak emissions by 2030 — in line with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s prior analysis. India committed to improving its emissions per unit of GDP — at a rate slower than that metric was already improving. President Obama, meanwhile, pledged America to concrete and aggressive emissions cuts that would require genuine and costly change. …

… The giveaway for the Paris charade is the refusal to set baselines. If nations are to hold one another accountable for progress on greenhouse-gas emissions, surely they must agree on a starting point from which to progress. Yet the framework for Paris pointedly omitted this requirement. Countries could calculate their own baselines however they chose, or provide none at all. Now … the pledges have themselves become baselines, and each country receives applause or condemnation in inverse proportion to its seriousness.

Even failing on one’s commitment is acceptable, so long as the right things get said. Carbon Market Watch reports that “despite all of the fanfare that went on at the time, it seems that there are currently only three European Union countries pursuing climate policies that put them in line with the agreements made at the Paris Climate Change Talks.” Angela Merkel said that she finds the G7’s discussion of climate change “very difficult,” but not because her nation’s emissions have risen the last two years. Her difficulty arises from those ugly Americans’ unwillingness to keep up appearances.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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