Commentary

Stephen Moore: Paris Climate Treaty Puts America Last

By Stephen Moore | November 24, 2020 | 10:10am EST
Environmental activists display placards during a demonstration in front of the United Nations building in Bangkok on Sept. 7, 2018. (Photo credit: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP via Getty Images)
Environmental activists display placards during a demonstration in front of the United Nations building in Bangkok on Sept. 7, 2018. (Photo credit: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP via Getty Images)

Here we are in the midst of the second wave of a once-in-a-half-century pandemic, with the economy flattened and millions of Americans unemployed and race riots in the streets of our major cities. And Joe Biden says that one of his highest priorities as president will be to...reenter the Paris Climate Accord.

Trump kept his America First promise and pulled America out of this Obama-era treaty. Biden wants us back in — immediately.

Why? Paris is an unmitigated failure. You don't have to take my word for it. National Geographic, a supporter of climate change action, recently ran the numbers and admits in its recent headline: "Most Countries Aren't Hitting 2030 Climate Goals." That's putting it mildly. Most haven't even reached half their pledged target for emission reductions.

Robert Watson, the former chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, laments: "Countries need to double and triple their 2030 reduction commitments to be aligned with the Paris target."

Gee, this sounds like a treaty we definitely should be part of and pay the bills for.

The one country making substantial progress in reducing carbon emissions is the U.S. under President Donald Trump. Even though our gross domestic product is way up over the past four years, our carbon dioxide emissions are DOWN. Our air pollution levels and emissions of lead, carbon monoxide, and other pollutants are at record-low levels.

Meanwhile, Beijing is far and away the largest polluter. Year after year, it makes hollow promises to stop climate change while building dozens of new coal plants. India and its 1 billion people are hooked on coal, too.

Here is Paris in nutshell: We put our coal miners out of their jobs and cripple our $1 trillion oil and gas industry while China and India keep polluting and laugh at us behind our back.

These nations have bigger and more immediate development priorities than worrying about climate change models and their guestimates of the global temperature in 50 years.

China has much deeper and sinister ambitions. Those don't involve cleaning up the planet. The communists in Beijing are obsessed with seizing world superpower status away from the U.S. The China 2025 plan for technology domination doesn't involve switching to expensive and unreliable energy sources. Their plan is to goad the U.S. into doing that.

The tragedy of all this is that we have a clean and efficient source of energy. Thanks to the shale oil and gas revolution, the cost of fossil fuels has fallen by 70% to 80% — and the costs will continue to fall, thanks to the superabundance of these energy sources. The U.S. has more fossil fuel energy than virtually any other nation. We are technologically ahead of the rest of the world in drilling productivity and have become a net exporter.

Gas is the planet's wonder-fuel. It should be the 21st-century power source. It makes no sense economically or ecologically to switch to windmills and solar panels, unless you are an investor in these expensive 19th-century energy sources.

Across the globe, world leaders are overjoyed that under a Biden administration, the U.S. will reenter the Paris Accord. Why wouldn't they be? We pay the bills. We hang our booming free market economy on a cross of climate change regulation. We pretend that the world is complying — when their actions speak much louder than their words. We trust, but we don't verify.

If Paris is one of Biden's first official acts as president, he will be announcing to the world that putting America First has been replaced with putting America Last.

Stephen Moore is a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation and an economic consultant with FreedomWorks. He is the co-author of "Trumponomics: Inside the America First Plan to Revive the American Economy."

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