Paris Ax about Political Science

By Madsen, Sue Lani | The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA), June 3, 2017 | Go to article overview

Paris Ax about Political Science


Madsen, Sue Lani, The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA)


On Thursday, a president kept a campaign promise. The U.S. officially pulled out of a nonbinding treaty setting unattainable voluntary goals.

Submitting to peer pressure, 195 countries signed on. Dangling the hope of $100 billion per year in payoffs from the developed nations (meaning us) bought the participation of countries blocked from developing with cheap energy like the rest of the world.

The most common progressive arguments for sticking with the Paris Climate Accord boiled down to its superficiality. "It imposes absolutely no practical or legal constraint on (America's) actions - not on trade policy, not on domestic energy policy, nothing." That's what proponent David Roberts had to say about it on Vox two days before President Trump made the pullout official.

So naturally after Mr. Trump's announcement, Roberts described it as "an unwise and immoral decision - bad for U.S. interests, bad for humanity, and bad for future generations."

In other words, it's totally toothless and yet vital to the future of humanity.

Amy Harder, writing on energy issues for online news magazine Axios, was present in the Rose Garden and overheard the background chatter. "To the Trump administration, the Paris climate deal has nothing to do with climate change. It's an economic issue. To Trump, withdrawing from the accord represents a triumph of populist America over greedy globalism."

We've been through this before with the Kyoto protocol. One president signed a treaty and never submitted it to the Senate for ratification. The next president said nevermind. We met the 2012 Kyoto emissions reductions targets anyway. Reduced emissions may partly be due to the economy tanking in 2008, but that just bolsters the argument for pulling out of the Paris accord on national economic grounds.

Global companies will continue to make global decisions. The larger trend has been for big businesses to head toward the greater efficiency that brings with it lower emissions. That means both investing in cleaner energy technology in the United States, and outsourcing production to countries that pledged to wait longer to start working cleaner. Nothing has changed, and little would have been changed by hanging out with the Paris crowd. …

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