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Talking Points on the Paris Climate Accords

By Alex Epstein

Background

  1. The Paris Climate Accords are a 2015 international agreement in which countries committed to specific short-term cuts in CO2 emissions along with the general goal of somehow eliminating almost all human-caused CO2 emissions by 2050.1
  2. These emissions cuts are allegedly necessary to keep the average temperature from increasing by more than 1 degree C or more (2 degrees since preindustrial times) which would allegedly be catastrophic.2
  3. Temperatures have already increased 1 degree C since preindustrial times. That has been accompanied by the greatest increase in human well-being in human history, including a record low level of deaths from climate-related causes--which have decreased at a rate of 98% over the last century.3 4
  4. Countries that adopted the Accords can commit to as much or as little CO2 reduction as they choose. China, for example, vowed to continue increasing its CO2 emissions until 2030. The Paris Accords have no enforcement mechanism to ensure that countries deliver on their commitments.5 6
  5. Unlike many countries, which did little more than pledge CO2 reductions they were going to make anyway, the U.S. under the Obama-Biden administration committed the U.S. to major CO2 reductions—26% to 28% lower than 2005 levels by 2025.7
  6. Even more significant, by signing the Paris Climate Accords, the Obama-Biden administration publicly committed the US--a country that, unlike most signees, takes its commitments seriously--to almost eliminating CO2 emissions by the year 2050.8
  7. Finally, the Paris Climate Accords committed developed nations to pay $100 billion a year, indefinitely--with the US surely paying the biggest share--to a "green climate fund" to pay for projects in other countries that will allegedly help eliminate their CO2 emissions and cope with climate change.9
  8. Most believers in climate catastrophe considered the commitments of the Paris Accords to be insufficient. One study found that “Almost 75% of 184 Paris Agreement pledges were judged insufficient to slow climate change.”10
  9. International commitments to reduce CO2 emissions have a history of failing, and the Paris Accords are no exception. Most countries still aren’t meeting their CO2 reduction pledges, including Canada, Japan, and the European Union.11
  10. The most significant progress in meeting Paris Climate Accords commitments has been the economic devastation of 2020, which has included a dramatic decrease in energy use.12

Unconstitutionality

Reason #1 why Biden should not rejoin Paris: to do so without Senate authorization is Unconstitutional.

  • The Paris Accords, an unprecedented commitment to change our economy, is a treaty if there ever was one. Obama had no right to enter it unilaterally, and neither does Biden.
  • Treaties require Senate ratification. The State Dept classifies something as a treaty using 8 criteria, including 1) it affects the whole nation, 2) it requires state law changes, and 3) it requires new federal legislation. These and the other 5 all apply to the Paris Accords.13

Anti-America

Reason #2 why Biden should not rejoin Paris: it goes against US interests.

  • The Paris Climate Accords commit the US to emissions reductions that would make our energy uncompetitively expensive--while China committed to nothing. Joining it was being a sucker, not a leader.
  • The nonpartisan National Economic Research Associates concluded that pursuing the Obama/Biden plan to achieve the Paris Climate Accords would cause rising economic damage reaching $2 trillion a year—about $15,000 a household—by 2040.14
  • The nonpartisan National Economic Research Associates also concluded that pursuing the Obama/Biden plan to achieve the Paris Climate Accords would destroy 6.5 million American industrial jobs by 2040.15

Immoral

Reason #3 why Biden should not rejoin the Paris Climate Accords: it is immoral.

  1. A moral international policy is one that expands human flourishing and human freedom. Paris is a path to outlawing fossil fuels, which means outlawing the only way to provide affordable, reliable energy for billions of people.16
  2. When you hear scary claims about a “climate crisis,” keep in mind that climate catastrophists have been claiming climate crisis for 40 years. For example, Obama science advisor John Holdren predicted in the 1980s that we’d have up to 1 billion climate deaths today.17
  3. After 40 years of “climate crisis” predictions by climate catastrophists, human beings are safer than ever from climate. The climate death rate has decreased by *98%* over the last century.18
  4. Fossil fuels were supposed to make climate far more dangerous in the last 40 years but they have actually made it far safer by providing low-cost, reliable energy for the development that protects us against storms, protect us against extreme temperatures, and alleviate drought.19
  5. Fossil fuels' CO2 emissions have contributed to the warming of the last 170 years, but that warming has been mild and manageable—1 degree Celsius, mostly in the colder parts of the world.20
  6. Fossil fuels' CO2 emissions have not only contributed to mild and manageable warming, they have also caused the benefit of significant global greening. Thanks to fossil fuels the Earth is far greener than it was just 40 years ago.21
  7. If the world continues using fossil fuels to provide low-cost, reliable, global-scale energy, the result will not be a climate crisis but continued manageable warming, significant greening, and a far better life for billions who will have the power to develop and flourish.
  8. If America tries to rapidly eliminate fossil fuel use by following the Paris Climate Accords we will not prevent a crisis, we will cause a crisis by making energy completely unreliable and unaffordable for American industry and American consumers.

Alternatives

If the US shouldn't rejoin the Paris Climate Accords, what should we do?

First, recognize reality: there is climate change but no climate crisis. Fossil fuels' overall impact is incredibly positive.

Second, liberate oppressed non-carbon alternatives, above all nuclear energy.

  • The only way to lower CO2 emissions and benefit America is developing ways to produce low-carbon energy that are truly reliable and low-cost. Are China and India going to stop using fossil fuels so long as they are the lowest-cost option? They won’t and they shouldn’t.22 23
  • America can lower emissions and energy costs by decriminalizing nuclear energy. Nuclear is actually the safest source of energy and the only way to provide reliable non-carbon electricity anywhere in the world. Yet politicians are overregulating it to death.24
  • Ultra-clean, reliable nuclear plants are being shut down despite ultra-low fuel costs. Why? Because of policies like the PTC/ITC wind/solar subsidies, which force us to overpay for unreliable power and underpay for reliable power. And Congress just renewed these abominations!25
  • The fossil fuel bans and “renewables only” policies supported by most Democratic politicians will make American energy incredibly unreliable and expensive. That won’t stop CO2 emissions from rising but it will ruin the American economy.

Full cost

The Paris Climate Accords is an immoral, self-destructive agreement that on paper commits the US to huge productivity losses in the short term and total economic destruction in the long term. Unfortunately, Joe Biden’s plan to implement the Paris Accords is far worse.

  1. In 2015 the Obama/Biden administration, without Senate authorization, committed the US to the Paris Climate Accords. The Accords called for a 28% cut in emissions by 2025 and at least an 80% cut by 2050.26
  2. The costs of Obama's Paris plan would have been enormous. The nonpartisan National Economic Research Associates concluded that Obama's plan would cause rising economic damage reaching $2 trillion a year—about $15,000 a household—by 2040.27
  3. The costs of Obama's Paris plan to industrial workers would have been particularly onerous. The nonpartisan National Economic Research Associates concluded that Obama's plan would destroy 6.5 million American industrial jobs by 2040.28
  4. Joe Biden's Paris plan is far more more onerous than Obama's: eliminating CO2 emissions from electricity by 2035 and eliminating all CO2 emissions by 2050. In fact, it's impossible because all energy uses a lot of fossil fuel for mining, transportation, and high-temp heat.29
  5. While Biden's emissions elimination goals cannot be achieved, period, the attempt to achieve them would be devastating. Just one of Biden's plans involves forcing Americans to pay $2 trillion--$15,000 a household--to begin a solar and wind-based grid that can’t possibly work.30
  6. No cost estimates are possible for the impossible "net zero by 2050" goal. But the only nation to even try an independent cost-estimate, New Zealand, calculated 16% of GDP--the equivalent of $5 trillion a year US. That's about $30,000 a household.31
  7. Even $30K per household per year is an underestimate for Biden's Paris plan, because it assumes he will seek the most cost-effective ways to reduce emissions. But on Day 1 Biden *increased* emissions by stopping a pipeline that would have reduced emissions and created 10K+ jobs.32
  8. Any proper decision to enter an international agreement must pass 3 tests: 1) It must be Constitutional. 2) It must benefit the United States. 3) It must be moral. Joe Biden rejoining the Paris Climate Accords without Senate authorization fails all 3.

References


  1. UNFCCC - The Paris Agreement

  2. UNFCCC - The Paris Agreement

  3. For every million people on earth, annual deaths from climate-related causes (extreme temperature, drought, flood, storms, wildfires) declined 98%--from an average of 247 per year during the 1920s to 2.5 in per year during the 2010s.

    Data on disaster deaths come from EM-DAT, CRED / UCLouvain, Brussels, Belgium – www.emdat.be (D. Guha-Sapir).

    Population estimates for the 1920s from the Maddison Database 2010 come from the Groningen Growth and Development Centre, Faculty of Economics and Business at University of Groningen. For years not shown population is assumed to have grown at a steady rate.\Population estimates for the 2010s come from World Bank Data.

  4. The decadally smoothed data from the UK Met Office HadCRUT4 dataset (column 1 contains the year, column 2 the decadally smoothed temperature anomaly data in °C) shows an increase of 0.974°C between 1850 and 2019.

  5. Climate Action Tracker - Pledges and Targets for China

  6. “...the final submissions are not enforceable, and carry no consequences beyond “shame” for noncompliance—a fact bizarrely taken for granted by all involved.” - Why the Paris climate deal is meaningless by Oren Cass

  7. Climate Action Tracker - Pledges And Targets for United States

  8. “The vision, unveiled at the United Nations climate conference in Morocco, shows the United States could reduce its carbon emissions by 80% below 2005 levels by 2050, largely by cutting emissions from the electric generating sector.” - Utility Dive - Obama administration unveils path for deep decarbonization for Paris Climate Accord

  9. “As part of the Paris outcome, developed countries were urged to scale-up their level of support with a concrete roadmap to achieve the goal of mobilising US$100 billion per year by 2020 for climate action in developing countries.” - UNFCCC - Roadmap to US$100 Billion

  10. EurekaAlert - The truth behind the Paris Agreement climate pledges

  11. https://climateactiontracker.org/

  12. New Scientist - Record CO2 emissions drop in 2020 won't do much to halt climate change

    “A record 7 per cent drop in global carbon emissions this year will make no difference to long-term climate change, say researchers.”

  13. Heritage Foundation - The Paris Agreement Is a Treaty and Should Be Submitted to the Senate

  14. “The losses become larger in the long run as the “mid-term” deep decarbonization target constrains the economy significantly. The U.S. economy could lose about 6% of its GDP on average between 2034 and 2040 amounting to a loss of greater than $2 trillion annually and a cumulative loss of $14 trillion.”
    NERA - Impacts of Greenhouse Gas Regulations On the Industrial Sector

  15. “Taking into account the loss in employment in other non-manufacturing sectors, the job-equivalents impact for the overall industrial sector could be about 1.1 million job-equivalents in 2025 and 6.5 million in 2040.”
    NERA - Impacts of Greenhouse Gas Regulations On the Industrial Sector

  16. Coal, oil, and gas combined provide over 80% of global energy consumed.
    BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2020

  17. Paul Ehrlich, The Machinery of Nature (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1986), 274.

  18. For every million people on earth, annual deaths from climate-related causes (extreme temperature, drought, flood, storms, wildfires) declined 98%--from an average of 247 per year during the 1920s to 2.5 in per year during the 2010s.

    Data on disaster deaths come from EM-DAT, CRED / UCLouvain, Brussels, Belgium – www.emdat.be (D. Guha-Sapir).

    Population estimates for the 1920s from the Maddison Database 2010 come from the Groningen Growth and Development Centre, Faculty of Economics and Business at University of Groningen. For years not shown population is assumed to have grown at a steady rate.\Population estimates for the 2010s come from World Bank Data.

  19. Using the average world population in the 1980s (4.8 billion) and the 2010s (7.3 billion) and the average deaths per year from all meteorological, hydrological, and climatological disasters for both decades (66,697 and 18,342 respectively), the annual deaths rates per one million people from climate-related disasters has declined by over 80% from 13.8 to 2.5.

    Disaster deaths from EM-DAT, CRED / UCLouvain, Brussels, Belgium – www.emdat.be (D. Guha-Sapir).
    Population estimates from World Bank Data.

  20. The decadally smoothed data from the UK Met Office HadCRUT4 dataset (column 1 contains the year, column 2 the decadally smoothed temperature anomaly data in °C) shows an increase of 0.974°C between 1850 and 2019.

    Climate.gov - Climate change rule of thumb: cold "things" warming faster than warm things

  21. Regional trends vary, but overall the world's leaf area increased by 5.4 million square kilometers, or an amazon rainforest worth of greening, between 2000 and 2017 alone with over 1/3 of vegetated land showing an increase while only 5% showed a loss of green vegetation.

    “Long-term satellite records reveal a significant global greening of vegetated areas since the 1980s, which recent data suggest has continued past 2010.

    Global vegetation models suggest that CO2 fertilization is the main driver of global vegetation greening.” - Piao, S., Wang, X., Park, T. et al. Characteristics, drivers and feedbacks of global greening. Nat Rev Earth Environ 1, 14–27 (2020)

  22. Combined, China and India have 288 new coal plants (over 300 GW of capacity) under construction or in the planning phase as of July 2020.
    Global Coal Tracker by Global Energy Monitor

  23. The largest increase in energy consumption is projected to come from non-OECD countries, but this might be underestimating future growth potential for the poorest regions in Africa.

    U.S. EIA International Energy Outlook 2019 reference case

  24. Nuclear energy is statistically the safest form of energy production by a wide margin, regardless of whether one takes into account speculative health impacts from air pollution, which nuclear technology does not create. No other relevant technologies cause so few casualties per unit of energy produced.

    World Nuclear Association - Safety of Nuclear Power Reactors

  25. Talking Points on Wind Production Tax Credit

  26. “...the United States intends to achieve an economy-wide target of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28 per cent below its 2005 level in 2025 and to make best efforts to reduce its emissions by 28%.…This target is consistent with a straight line emission reduction pathway from 2020 to deep, economy-wide emission reductions of 80% or more by 2050.”UNFCCC - First Nationally Determined Contributions Submission by the US

  27. “The losses become larger in the long run as the “mid-term” deep decarbonization target constrains the economy significantly. The U.S. economy could lose about 6% of its GDP on average between 2034 and 2040 amounting to a loss of greater than $2 trillion annually and a cumulative loss of $14 trillion.”NERA - Impacts of Greenhouse Gas Regulations On the Industrial Sector

  28. “Taking into account the loss in employment in other non-manufacturing sectors, the job-equivalents impact for the overall industrial sector could be about 1.1 million job-equivalents in 2025 and 6.5 million in 2040.”
    NERA - Impacts of Greenhouse Gas Regulations On the Industrial Sector

  29. “At this moment of profound crisis, we have the opportunity to build a more resilient, sustainable economy – one that will put the United States on an irreversible path to achieve net-zero emissions, economy-wide, by no later than 2050.

    Move ambitiously to generate clean, American-made electricity to achieve a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035. This will enable us to meet the existential threat of climate change while creating millions of jobs with a choice to join a union.”
    Joe Biden’s Clean Energy Plan

  30. “Biden will make a $2 trillion accelerated investment, with a plan to deploy those resources over his first term, setting us on an irreversible course to meet the ambitious climate progress that science demands.”Joe Biden’s Clean Energy Plan

  31. “There is only one nation that has done an independent cost estimate of net-zero, namely New Zealand. The Kiwis found the average best-case cost is 16 percent of GDP, or a US cost of more than $5 trillion a year by mid-century.”
    Bjorn Lomborg - Joe Biden’s climate-change plans will burn billions, won’t bring change we actually need

  32. “The Obama State Department found five separate times that the pipeline would have no material impact on greenhouse gas emissions since crude would still be extracted. Shipping bitumen by rail or tanker would result in 28% to 42% higher CO2 emissions and more leaks.…A source says TC and unions tried to persuade the Biden team by explaining Keystone’s benefits to progressives, including 10,000 American union construction jobs”
    WSJ - Biden’s Keystone Pipeline Kill