Climatologist: Despite the Hype, Paris Climate Accord ‘Doesn’t Really Do Anything’ to Reduce Global Warming

Barbara Hollingsworth | October 7, 2016 | 10:36am EDT
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President Obama said that the Paris Climate Accord "gives us the best possible shot to save the one planet we've got" at the White House Rose Garden on Oct. 5, 2016. (AP photo)


( –  President Obama hailed the European Parliament’s ratification of the Paris Climate Accord on Wednesday as “a turning point for our planet”, but climatologist Patrick Michaels says despite the presidential hype, the international climate change agreement, which goes into effect on November 4th,  “doesn’t really do anything” to reduce global warming.

"The truth is that the Paris Climate Accord doesn't really do anything," Michaels, director of the Cato Institute’s Center for the Study of Science, said of the international agreement, which attempts to prevent average global temperatures from rising more than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2100 by drastically reducing the carbon dioxide emissions of its 191 signatory nations.

“If you take a hard look at the numbers, if every nation did what they said they will do, and they won’t, it would reduce warming between now and the year 2100 by between 0.1 and 0.2 degrees C[elsius]. That is an amount that is too small to measure,” Michaels told

“I think it’s quite remarkable that people go around clapping each on the back and congratulating each other when they know that they didn’t agree to do very much at all,” he noted.

Michaels pointed out that even if all the pledges to reduce CO2 emissions are kept, the agreement would have a negligble effect on global warming.

“The Chinese, for all of President Obama’s praise, only agreed to do what Obama’s own economists told him they would do with business as usual," Michaels continued."They said, in 2011, given the development of the Chinese economy, it’s going to be mature around 2030 and that means their carbon dioxide emissions will stabilize. And that’s what they said they would do. They said we intend to stabilize our emissions around 2030.

“India, by the way, in Paris agreed to do less than business as usual. Their emissions per capita were dropping, I don’t know, about 20 percent or something like that, and they said we are going to have our emissions per capita not drop as much by 2030. And everybody claps their hands, like they’ve done something. …

“Only the United States and the EU [European Union] are the ones that are going to cost themselves a lot of money for this Paris Agreement. Go figure.”

Obama officially joined the Paris Climate Accord when he signed an executive order on September 3rd, stating at the time that “someday we may see this as the moment that we finally decided to save our planet.”

The president agreed to reduce U.S. carbon dioxide emissions 28 percent by 2030, a goal he intends to reach by implementing his controversial Clean Power Plan, which was recently put on hold by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Under the U.S. Constitution, treaties with other nations must be ratified by the Senate. In light of this, CNSNews asked Michaels for his thoughts on the current status of the international climate change agreement in the U.S.

 “It’s very unclear,” he replied. “Judging from the Supreme Court’s statement a little bit over a year ago in one of the power plant cases, and this was when [Justice Antonin] Scalia was still there, something of this magnitude, the court feels, probably should be legislated.

“Also, the Paris Agreement contains the words ‘we shall’ do this, ‘we shall’ do that as opposed to ‘we should’ do this, ‘we should’ do that. And even according to Secretary of State John Kerry, the word ‘shall’ makes it much closer to a treaty.

“And I think the Congress, when it gets back in session next January, ought to decide whether this is a treaty. And say to the president: ‘If we think it’s a treaty, you send it to the Senate for ratification. If you act on it otherwise, there’s going to be major legal problems’.”

Michaels added that the best course of action for the United States is to “do nothing” on climate change.

“Temperatures warmed between the late 1970s and the late 1990s, and depending upon what record you look at – whether you look at a satellite record, whether you look at a surface record – the warming either slowed down beginning in the late 1990s or in the case of the satellite record, stopped.

“Now that’s not predicted to have happened. But on the other hand, remember that it warmed up until the late 1990s, so that got us to a very high stand of temperatures. So even if the temperature remains constant, when you get something like an El Nino which induces an annual temperature spike, one for a year or two, you’re going to get record-high temperatures. And that’s where we are right now,” he told CNSNews.

“What’s going to happen in the next year after that El Nino is completely gone and the cold water that is suppressed comes back up, who knows where that temperature’s going to be a year or two from now, but it’s certainly not going to be as high as it was this year or last year.”

But even the current El Nino-driven warming is not nearly as high as computer models predicted, he pointed out.

“The hallmark of this issue from the get-go has been exaggeration,” Michaels told CNSNews. “Yes, if you put more carbon dioxide in the air, you will get a warming pressure on temperatures in the lower atmosphere and near the surface. That is true. And it’s warmer than it was a 100 years ago.

“But not all of that warming has been caused by carbon dioxide. Much of it occurred before we ever put much carbon dioxide in the air.

“And so the logical conclusion, if you compare what computer models say should be happening and what is happening, is that those models dramatically overforecast the amount of warming.

“And if, say, only half as much warming is going to occur as is being predicted, this turns into a non-problem because technology and society changes so much. Energy technology, just think 100 years ago," Michaels said.

“And if you have a gradual warming and you’re concerned about carbon dioxide, you’re going to be using different technologies 100 years from now. I don’t know what they’re going to be. I’m pretty darn sure they’re not going to be solar energy and windmills. We need good, dense energy that’s reliable. But it’s gonna be very different,” he added.

“So if the warming rate is modest, probably the best thing to do is to do nothing, because doing nothing is really actually doing something. It’s allowing yourself to generate the capital to produce new energy.”

Related: Obama on Paris Climate Accord: ‘History Will Judge Today as a Turning Point For Our Planet’

Related: Paris Climate Deal Calls for America to Transfer Wealth to 'Developing' Countries

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