Much Ado About Nothing

Source:  Montana Petroleum Report, June 14, 2017    Montana Petroleum Association

Contact:  Jessica Sena (406) 590-8675

It’s become difficult to decipher between reality and alarmism these days.  To add insult to injury, President Trump can’t seem to take two steps without being ridiculed from every direction.

The latest point of contention has been his decision to disengage from the Paris Climate Accord (PCA).  But is all the noise justified?  Perhaps not, and here’s why.

First, the agreement is called an “accord” in the United States, rather than a treaty.  This is significant because the difference is that a treaty must be ratified by the U.S. Senate.  Fearing rejection in Congress, former Secretary of State, John Kerry argued against binding targets to reduce emissions such as those in the Kyoto Protocol.  As an “accord”, the President could bypass Congress and commit $1 billion in taxpayer dollars towards the $100 billion-dollar goal promised by signors of the climate agreement to assist developing nations in reaching their respective climate goals.  That’s $1 billion dollars that could have been used on research and development of innovative and emerging energy technologies on American soil.

Some would have you believe that by withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord, the U.S. is taking a stand against meaningful environmental progress, or worse that the global climate is doomed.  Neither could be further from the truth.

In 1997, the Kyoto Protocol, a global climate treaty requiring a 5.2 percent reduction in 1990 carbon dioxide levels, was adopted in Japan.  The details on implementation of the Protocol were ratified by 191 United Nations countries in 1997.  The first commitment period for the treaty began four years after the Protocol became international law in 2004, and ended in 2012.

Though the treaty was supported by then president Bill Clinton and vice president, Al Gore, it did not have the support of the Republican-held Senate.

The globe’s top three emitting nations are China, the U.S., and India, none of which ratified the Kyoto Protocol.  Of the three, the U.S. has been the only country to consistently reduce emissions.  Between 1992 and 2004, the U.S. reduced emissions by 13.3 percent.  During the same period, China increased emissions a whopping 189.6 percent and emissions in India rose by 73.3 percent.  Fast forward to 2012 and you’ll see that the U.S. continued the trend in emissions reduction.

Without having ratified the Kyoto treaty, the U.S. led the charge as the first major industrialized nation to meet the requirements of the Protocol.

In 2012, the same year the treaty ended, carbon emissions from U.S. energy consumption were the lowest they’d been since 1994, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.  Remarkably, this was while record-level crude oil production was taking place; the highest for any year, in fact, since 1997 when the Kyoto Protocol was first ratified.

Flourishing energy development in recent years has been a boon to the national economy, however, if the U.S. were to commit to the Paris Climate Accord, the economy would suffer greatly.  A study by National Economic Research Associates estimated a loss of nearly 3 million U.S. jobs by 2025.  By 2040, the study predicts that a host of industries would be wiped out altogether, eliminating jobs, production, and tax revenue from vital sectors of the American workforce.

Arguably the worst part of the Accord is the fact that it would have no significant effect on global temperatures.  A peer-reviewed paper by Dr. Bjorn Lomborg published in the Global Policy journal determined that if every country achieved their emissions goal by 2030, the total temperature reduction by 2100 would be only 0.048 degrees Celsius (0.086 degrees Farenheit).  Extending the climate commitments another 70 years, according to Dr. Lomborg’s research, still proves little discernible benefit to the global temperature.

President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord should be acknowledged for what it truly is; a stand not against addressing global climate change, but against global government by fiat.

The U.S. continues to make strides in energy and environmental progress.  Emissions have been on a steady decline since 2008.  Through the first half of 2016, U.S. emissions were the lowest in 25 years (Energy Information Administration).  Better yet, increased production of oil and natural gas has led to lower energy prices, and provided family jobs to people from all walks of life.

Climate agreement or not, as history has proven once before, the U.S. will continue to lead the world in energy innovation and environmental stewardship.