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Congressional Democrats Push to Keep U.S. in Paris Climate Agreement

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Congressional Democrats Push to Keep U.S. in Paris Climate Agreement

April 29, 2019
Energy & EnvironmentClimate

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Congressional Democrats plan to vote on a bill that would require the United States to meet its goals under the 2015 Paris climate agreement and bar the Trump administration from using federal funds to withdraw from the deal. Mark Mills responds.

Congressional Democrats would like to stop the Trump Administration from withdrawing from the Paris Agreement and require the development of a “plan” to meet that Agreement’s aspirational plans.

One doesn’t need to debate climate issues to know something about this political confrontation. The facts make it clear that the Paris Agreement is a global exercise in nation-state virtue signaling. 

As one study reported last year, none of the signatories are meeting the pledged energy aspirations. In fact, the record shows only two nations have come close to becoming compliant with the Paris Agreements’ goals. Those countries (no drum roll needed) are Morocco and Gambia. From Norway and New Zealand to Canada and China, the world is miles away from meeting the energy goals proffered in Paris nearly four years ago.

In the meantime, since plans were laid for the Paris Agreement, global oil consumption has risen by 4 million barrels per day and natural gas use has risen nearly as much (in energy equivalent terms). Both trends follow straight-line growth since the world came out of recession. Of course, wind/solar production has risen too—in no small measure from subsidies and mandates—but together those sources supplied less than 15% of all new energy production (hydrocarbons supplied the rest).

Even coal use is on the rise. As the International Energy Agency (IEA) recently noted: "The story of coal is a tale of two worlds with climate action policies and economic forces leading to closing coal power plants in some countries, while coal continues to play a part in securing access to affordable energy in others." 

For all of history energy demand has followed economic growth. Again from the IEA: “Energy demand worldwide grew [in 2018] by …[the] fastest pace this decade, an exceptional performance driven by a robust global economy.” Meanwhile in America, the Energy Information Administration reported U.S. 2018 energy use reached the highest level in our history—overwhelming supplied by hydrocarbons.

Today the U.S. gets 3% of its energy from wind and solar combined (it’s at 2% for the world) and over 80% from hydrocarbons. Given the aspirations for economic growth, rather than chimerical Paris virtues, what we should be focused on is a version of the strategy President Obama articulated the year before the Paris Agreement was signed, the practical but less fashionable All-of-the-Above Energy Strategy.

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Mark P. Mills is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of the recent report "The New Energy Economy: An Exercise In Magical Thinking."

Related materials:

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Oren Cass is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of The Once and Future Worker.

Photo by Astrid Riecken / Getty Images

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