Commentary

Why Would ExxonMobil Want US to Stay in Paris Climate Protocol?

E. Calvin Beisner
By E. Calvin Beisner | March 31, 2017 | 4:12 PM EDT

(AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)

The Financial Times reports that ExxonMobil “has written to the Trump administration urging it to keep the US in the Paris climate accord ….”

Why? The main reason is that staying in the Paris accord offers “the opportunity to support greater use of natural gas, which creates lower carbon dioxide emissions than coal when burnt for power generation.”

But of course we only need to reduce CO2 emissions if harms arising from them outweigh benefits and benefits of reducing them outweigh harms. But neither of these is the case. The best empirical studies show, as we’ve pointed out in our documentary Where the Grass Is Greener: Biblical Stewardship vs. Climate Alarmism and our paper A Call to Truth, Prudence, and Protection of the Poor: The Case against Harmful Climate Policies Gets Stronger, that climate models exaggerate CO2’s warming effect by 2 to 4 times, and its real, very slight, warming effect is likely more beneficial than harmful. At the same time, warming prevented by full implementation of all countries’ intentions in the Paris accord would be only about an inconsequential 0.306 degree F, while the cost of achieving that would be $1 to $2 trillion per year—$70 to $140 trillion from 2030 to 2100—money that could do far more good by providing pure drinking water, sewage sanitation, electrification, nutrition supplements, infectious disease control, health care, and other benefits to the world’s poor.

So what’s the real reason ExxonMobil and, as FT notes, “[s]everal other large international oil companies, particularly in Europe, have also backed action to address climate change”? It’s clearly not about climate.

FT answers the question in the same sentence: it “could benefit them by boosting demand for gas.”

I.e., this is simple special-interest pleading on the part of the oil companies—nothing new. They don’t want competition from coal for providing the electricity that the developing world desperately needs to lift and keep its people out of poverty.

Which means that the best policy for the world’s poor, the policy that will most help them rise out of poverty, is for governments to get out of the business of picking winners and losers in the energy field (as in all others) and let free-market competition decide.

Oh, by the way—who was it that was supposed to be “in the pocket of Big Oil”?

E. Calvin Beisner, Ph.D., is Founder and National Spokesman of The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation and a scholar on the application of Biblical worldview, theology, and ethics to economics, government, and public policy.

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