Milton Friedman once said it's a great mistake in life to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results. Which might be the No. 1 reason so many conservatives oppose the so-called Paris Accords, which is more scam than accord.
When President Trump was first elected back in 2016, he promised to walk away from the Paris Agreement on climate change. On Monday, on the first day the country was required to give that notice of withdrawal, he did so. It should become official in exactly one year.
The Paris "Accord" was mostly talk, but talk aimed at the United States. The semi-treaty was mainly a stack of paper promises made by the countries of the world--and different promises at that.
Third World countries, for their part, made promises to do very little. Countries that pollute the air to the extent that even their own people wear masks outside (China and India are best examples) promised to cut emissions in the future, and only maybe once their economies have caught up to the West.
And, by the way, what's the promise from a totalitarian country like Red China really worth?
(Before arguing on this subject, it's best to actually read the Paris Agreement--advice we'd give to our friends on the right and left.)
In Paris, the United States was asked to sign on the dotted line as well, but start making changes to the U.S. economy now, now and now. And if you think that an official promise by the United States can be as easily forgotten as one from mainland China or India--or North Korea or Iran or even Europe--remember that the United States has federal courts. And groups like the Sierra Club, the Environmental Defense Fund, Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund love to use them. A promise by the United States could be written into federal law in the time it takes to write a check for attorney fees.
But those of us who've opposed the Paris Agreement have had our humanity questioned. After all, who could possibly be in favor of pollution?
It's an unfair question.
A wise old editorial writer once gave us this piece of advice: Take on the opposition's best and strongest points, not its weakest. So we plan to do so here, using the opposition's words from the usual suspects and sources:
• "The biggest cost is doing nothing," UN Secretary-General António Guterres told The Washington Post. "The biggest cost is subsidizing a dying fossil fuel industry, building more and more coal power plants, and denying what is plain as day: that we are in a deep climate hole, and to get out, we must first stop digging."
Yes, but the ChiComs are building new coal-fired power plants every month, and plan even more. Back in September, Reuters reported that mainland China planned to build coal-fired "projects" at the rate of, well, "the highest in the world and more than twice the amount of new capacity on the books in India."
China's approved plans are more than Germany's existing power capacity. America could cut its coal-fired plants to zero tomorrow, and China would still be pumping emissions into the air that we all breathe.
Speaking of America's cutting emissions, this country has been doing so, for years. Until last year, there was a steady decline from 2005 to 2017 in greenhouse gases. (Check out https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/inventory-us-greenhouse-gas-emissions-and-sinks)
• "[President's Trump's] action, which came on the first day possible under the accord's complex rules on withdrawal, begins a yearlong countdown to the United States exit and a concerted effort to preserve the Paris Agreement, under which nearly 200 nations have pledged to cut greenhouse emissions and to help poor countries cope with the worst effects of an already warming planet."--The New York Times
Yes, poor countries are mostly left alone in the Paris Agreement, when they aren't straight-up being given cash. It was telling to read India's pledge in the 2016 agreement in which its officials spend most of their ink describing how poor their people are.
India does say that it has a voluntary goal of reducing emissions by 20-25 percent by next year, "despite having no binding mitigation obligations as per the Convention." It wants to make that clear. And does.
• Abandoning the Paris Agreement "is cruel to future generations, leaving the world less safe and productive," said Andrew Steer, president of the World Resources Institute, as reported by The Washington Post again. "It also fails people in the United States, who will lose out on clean energy jobs, as other nations grab the competitive and technological advantages that the low-carbon future offers."
Okay, but if this is a jobs program, then the United States should be able to choose what jobs it creates for its people. And if the United States falls behind in the number of jobs here, why does the world care?
• "The emissions-cutting pledges that countries unveiled in Paris were nowhere near sufficient to meet the goals detailed under the  agreement--a reality world leaders have repeatedly acknowledged. The plan was for nations to ramp up their ambition over time. And while dozens of countries have signaled their intentions to do just that over the coming year, it remains unclear whether it will be nearly enough to put the world on a more sustainable trajectory."--The Washington Post
That paragraph was in one of the last paragraphs in The Post's anchor story. Wethinks the paper buried the lede. It should be required reading for anybody making the argument in favor of the Paris Agreement.
President Trump tends to speak in bumper-sticker arguments. He says the Paris Agreement is "bad for America." The fact is that the Paris Accord will have the effect of changing climate not that much, if at all, but would fundamentally change the economy on these shores--and for added bonus, maybe bring the United States down a notch.
Whether the U.S. joins the accord, not much is going to change in regard to climate. Not as long as there are no borders in the atmosphere. But at least the accord would have choked the economy of the United States to the point of stall.
We can prove it. Just read the papers.
(To be continued tommorow.)
Editorial on 11/07/2019
Print Headline: Forget Paris again