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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Last Time We Saw Paris

The big news this morning is the flash that the President has decided to pull the USA out of the Paris climate accords.  It's not confirmed yet, but the media has all picked up the story as if it is a sure thing.  The hysteria is growing; you would think that this move by Trump dooms us all.  The truth, however, is that the coverage would do just as well if the reporters just screamed "the sky is falling" and fainted.

The reality is that the Paris agreements are totally unimportant for a number of reasons.

1.  The Paris agreements place no obligations on any country to do anything.  That may sound like an overstatement; these are an international agreement after all.  But it's no overstatement.  The Paris agreements have no enforcement provisions.  The agreements just announce what each country will do, but in reality they are closer to New Year's resolutions than an agreement.

2.  Even aside from the ridiculously weak nature of the Paris agreements, they do not address the world's biggest polluter, China.  If there really is anything to the need to reduce humanity's carbon footprint, then China has to be part of that effort.  Without participation by China and India (another major polluter), the agreements are meaningless.

3.  There never was American agreement in the first place to the Paris agreements.  President Obama signed them, but he never even bothered to submit them to the Senate for approval.  That means that these agreements have as much legal weight as the bill that the House passed recently to repeal and replace Obamacare.  They mean nothing.

It's important to keep in mind that since 1990, the country in the world that has reduced its carbon emissions by the greatest percentage is the USA.  Much of that reduction is the result of switching the generation of electricity from coal to natural gas.  Of course, the same people who are most apoplectic about withdrawing from the Paris agreements are also the ones who oppose fracking which is the reason that the switch from coal to natural gas became feasible.


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