Smith right about harmful, worthless climate accord
As a policy analyst and atmospheric scientist, we felt the need to respond to Gilbert Garcia’s recent column attacking U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith’s “anti-science” support for President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, or PCA.
Smith is right to oppose PCA, which has the dubious honor of simultaneously being environmentally worthless for the planet and economically punitive for the United States. In fact, PCA is really more about global wealth redistribution than it is about the climate. The 2016 analysis of PCA by Bjorn Lomborg of the Copenhagen Consensus Center found that even if every single signatory met its nonbinding commitments, global temperatures would be reduced by at most 0.2 degrees Celsius in 2100 relative to the baseline case of no PCA.
Simply put — any impact on the climate produced by this treaty over the next 80 years would be negligible.
Of course, that 0.2 degree reduction is the best-case scenario, possible only if every country meets its pledge. But France, Germany and Sweden are the only countries in Europe pursuing policies to meet their commitments, according to Transport & Environment and Carbon Market Watch. And Germany’s emissions have actually increased over the past two years, thanks to the shortsighted decision to close the country’s nuclear power plants.
The American Geophysical Union is already warning that India, the world’s third-largest carbon emitter, has plans for its coal industry that are incompatible with its treaty pledge, which included no emissions commitment. And China, the world’s largest carbon emitter, does not have to begin reducing its emissions until 2030.
Meanwhile, the United States pledged to cut its carbon dioxide emissions 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. That’s right — for the next 13 years, the United States would be competing with a self-imposed handicap while the world’s largest and third-largest emitters would be free to spew carbon dioxide with impunity.
According to a report issued in March by NERA Economic Consulting, meeting the pledge made in PCA would cost the U.S. economy about $4 trillion between 2022 and 2031. As our pledge’s “‘mid-term’ deep carbonization target constrains the economy significantly,” the study concludes, the U.S. economy “could lose about 6 percent 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.”
The study also estimates 6.5 million jobs in the industrial sector would be lost by 2040, including 3.1 million manufacturing jobs.
A separate analysis of PCA by the Heritage Foundation concluded the regulations the Obama administration proposed to meet our commitments would result in at least $2.5 trillion in lost GDP and 400,000 fewer jobs by 2035 — as well as a 13 percent increase in electricity prices annually and a $20,000 total reduction in income for a family of four.
To put this into perspective, losing $2.5 trillion in GDP is like losing the economic output of the entire state of California, which would mean losing the world’s sixth-largest economy.
President Trump was correct when he said that the PCA was a terrible deal for Americans. PCA was unconstitutional on its face, as it was never ratified by the Senate, and it would have caused this country serious economic pain with no corresponding improvement in the climate.
We are thankful President Trump saw the Paris climate accord for what it is, and we are not surprised Rep. Smith, who understands the science and economics of this issue well, came to the same conclusion.
Jeff Judson is a resident of San Antonio and a senior fellow at the Heartland Institute, a free-market think tank based in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Willie Soon is an atmospheric and solar scientist based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.