Making Sense of Climate Change and the Paris Accord

The recent decision of President Trump to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord was predictably met with all the hand wringing, pearl clutching, and establishment disdain one has come to expect. Some have remarked that this will be the end of the United States as leader of the free world. Eleven U.S. states have even said that they will continue to pursue energy policies as if the Paris accords are still in place, in direct defiance of the federal government. I support any state’s right to nullify federal laws, but I always find it interesting that leftists will use nullification and federalism for the causes they support, but are aghast when other states use nullification to say, enforce less restrictive gun control policies. But that’s another post.

So what about the Paris Accord? Has President Trump doomed us all to a life of smoggy darkness until climate change kills us all? Or are the Paris accords are like so many other international agreements? The fact is that the Paris climate accords are no more than an extremely expensive way to achieve extraordinarily little, while being able to say we are “doing something!”

As Oren Cass writes in Commentary Magazine:

The Accord was doomed before negotiators ever assembled for photographs in December 2015. They were not there to commit each country to meaningful greenhouse-gas reductions; rather, everyone submitted their voluntary pledges in advance, and all were accepted without scrutiny. Pledges did not have to mention emissions levels, nor were there penalties for falling short. The conference itself was, in essence, a stapling exercise.

The Paris accord is made of many individual nation’s pledges to fight climate change, but those pledges aren’t required to set any caps or goals for reducing emission levels, nor do they contain any penalties if said goals aren’t met.

Cass sums it up nicely:

So should the U.S. have stayed or gone? To quote another of President Obama’s secretaries of state: “What difference, at this point, does it make?” For the climate, not much of one. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s assessment of the agreement found that even full compliance would only have reduced global temperatures in 2100 by only 0.2 degrees Celsius.

Is the climate changing? Yes. The climate has gone through long periods of cooling and warming for millions of years. Is man the primary cause of climate change? There is no doubt that man’s activities have played some role, but the extent is way overblown. For example, tectonic plate activity plays a huge role in climate change and has virtually nothing to do with man.

The real question isn’t whether climate is changing or not. The real question is: should the U.S. spend $2.5 trillion and lose over 200,000 jobs for the mere possibility of reducing the global temperature 0.2 degrees in 100 years?