Paris Climate Accord: The Devil is Always in the Details

By Vincent J. Truglia 

If one looks into the Paris Climate Accord (PCA) in depth, the hype about “leaving” the accord is just that, hype. One reason about 200 countries have signed onto the agreement is that with the exception of a few countries, such as the US, the vast majority of other country would receive transfers of tens of billions of dollars, even over just a short ten year period.  How? There is a special global fund to which countries are supposed to contribute. The only country, which has given anything to the fund, to date, is the US, which gave $1 billion in December 2016. This fund is meant to transfer wealth from the developed world, in particular the US, to the rest of the world, with little or no oversight. I should add that most recipient countries in the emerging world are plagued with corruption, on a scale most Americans can’t even imagine. 

Since the US already has a large federal government deficit, any money we have provided or would provide to the fund would have to be borrowed. In other words, the US would borrow money on behalf of the rest of the world.

When one looks at the effects of the accord, even if fully implemented, it would affect global temperatures by a tiny amount by the year 2100 (0.2 to 0.3 degrees Celsius).

The biggest beneficiaries are China and India. China presently produces about twice the CO2 than the US. It would be under NO obligation to cut those emissions for decades. India is demanding massive subsidies from the US and Europe to cut its growth of CO2 emissions. Notice I wrote, “cut its growth” not “cut CO2 emissions.”

The US presently is reducing CO2 emissions at a fast rate, primarily because the US is switching to natural gas for electricity production. WHY? Because it’s cheaper, and an added benefit is that it cuts carbon emissions by about half compared to coal (unless the newest technology is used to clean the emissions from coal).

This agreement would continue to hurt the Midwest, in particular. It’s not going to be the wealthy that suffer if the accord is implemented. Rather, it’s those who have already lost their jobs to energy regulation, and more importantly, future job losses in the steel, cement and construction industries, among others.

Since there are ZERO enforcement requirements, does one really think that countries, which lack a rule of law, will follow the accord? I doubt they will. Only the US, Europe and Japan will likely follow it. 

If we really want to reduce CO2 emissions, we should export our LNG to places like China, which lack equivalent energy resources. Switching just a fraction of China’s coal power plants to natural gas would lead far more to lower CO2 emissions that the Paris accord would ever possibly produce.

The accord would also create another huge international bureaucracy. Who needs that?

For most people, it may be a minor point, but this accord is not a treaty. Many countries ratified the accord as if it were a treaty. However, it would have been a non-starter in the US Senate, where it would have required a two-thirds majority to ratify it. Instead, massive changes were being implemented by presidential order, not by law.  It was a constitutional overstep to say the least. That’s why with the stroke of a pen, it can be erased.

As Always, Clear and Candid.

3 thoughts on “Paris Climate Accord: The Devil is Always in the Details

  1. Hi Vincent,

    I always have a tremendous amount of respect for your views and am a close follower of your blog, but I have to respectfully disagree:

    1) The U.S. entire end contribution to the agreement was going to be $3 billion over 10 years, and the rest of the world has agreed to pay $7 billion to the climate fund; this is an inconsequential amount of $ in our budget. The U.S. offers tremendous tax breaks and incentives for oil companies on the order of billions of dollars per year, exceeding our 10 year global fund contribution every year. If we want to continue to be leaders of the free world what is irresponsible about sacrificing? Does Tom Brady say, “team you always expect me to work hard at practice and bail us out of games, I’m going to quit practice and just play the games for fun” – is that our view of world leadership?

    2) Yes, there are no constrains on China’s emissions in the agreement but as you pointed out that is misleading because there are no binding constraints on ANY country in the agreement.

    China is taking huge strides to lower their carbon emissions, not only because of the accord but also because it’s in the best interest of their populations to get off of coal and other pollutants so their largest cities aren’t covered in smog. E.x. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-11-14/global-emissions-growth-to-slow-in-2016-as-china-burns-less-coal

    3) A .2-.3 degree celsius decline in 2100 is not a small amount as you claimed. By 2100 global warming is expected to raise temperatures about 2 degrees, so this would limit the rising temperatures by 10-15% across the entire planet. Also consider that is the average, that could mean keeping some of regions of the world from rising 5,6,7 degrees or more.

    4) For the mid-west states this move to leave is the nail in the coffin for their economies by doubling down in their failed attempts for coal and energy sources of the past. The accord created a market of the entire world agreeing to make investments in alternative energies. The U.S. has been poised to be a leader in exporting solar, wind and batteries; which could all be manufactured in the mid-west. Instead we have branded ourselves as energy dinosaurs joining only Syria in being against the agreement. California is #1 in environmental protection and is the #1 fastest growing economy in the U.S..

    China is filling the vacuum of leadership and market share in the #1 industry of the 21st century, poised to benefit from this administrations missteps.

    • Max thank you for your comments. I, too, must respectfully disagree. Yes, you are correct that some nations have funded their pledge, but the main problem is the scale of funding being asked for post-2020: http://bit.ly/2rk7OkY

      Below is just a short section describing with unusual candor why the Agreement was written as it was:

      “The Paris Decision, serving as guidance for the
      implementation of the Paris Agreement and pre-2020
      action, ‘strongly urges developed country Parties to
      scale up their level of financial support, with a concrete
      roadmap to achieve the goal of jointly providing USD
      100 billion annually by 2020 for mitigation and
      adaptation’ (para 115). The Decision furthermore
      mentions that prior to 2025 the COP shall set a new
      ‘collective quantified goal from a floor of USD 100 billion
      per year’ (para 54). The reason both quantitative targets
      are missing from the actual Agreement is a pragmatic
      one – in doing so the COP has enabled the US
      President to adopt the Agreement as ‘sole-executive
      agreement’ under US law, without the requirement for
      the US Senate to approve.”

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