While other countries made emissions pledges that could be met without trying, Obama committed the U.S. to an aggressive, costly climate-change agenda.
Editor's Note: The following piece originally appeared in City Journal. It is reprinted here with permission.
Even before President Trump had completed his announcement that the United States would withdraw from the Paris Accord on climate change, howls of disbelief and outrage went up from proponents of the agreement. But the critical dynamic underlying the 2015 Accord, willfully ignored by its advocates, is that major developing countries offered “commitments” for emissions reduction that only mirrored their economies’ existing trajectories. Thus, for instance, China committed to reaching peak emissions by 2030 — in line with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s prior analysis. India committed to improving its emissions per unit of GDP — at a rate slower than that metric was already improving. President Obama, meanwhile, pledged America to concrete and aggressive emissions cuts that would require genuine and costly change.
As I wrote in NATIONAL REVIEW at the conclusion of the Paris conference in December 2015:
“The full scope of the catastrophe will emerge only in the years to come. One of the agreement’s few binding provisions is a requirement for countries to gather and review their commitments and their adherence to them every five years. Given the caliber of the pledges, that promise of review has little value; countries that promised to proceed on their existing trajectories will pass with flying colors. But the United States, whose commitments far exceed what even the aggressive Obama agenda is expected to produce, will be the nation off track.”
Sure enough, a recent headline from Inside Climate News blares....