“We’ll always have Paris,” runs the classic line from “Casablanca,” and it might as well serve as one of the Biden-Harris administration’s central mantras. Joe Biden promises to aggressively combat climate change, starting by rejoining the Paris Agreement, which Team Trump ditched to the horror of the global cognoscenti.
That’s not a good thing.
In 2015, the Obama administration entered the Paris Agreement. Unlike treaties, which must be ratified by the US Senate, the Paris Agreement is “voluntary”: Each signatory nation vows to reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions sometime in the future.
China, for example, whose emissions have been increasing rapidly and which in 2019 accounted for 30 percent of global carbon emissions, has “promised” to start reducing its emissions by 2030. In that respect, the Paris Agreement is no different than those of us who each year, after our excesses during the Thanksgiving-to-Christmas season, promise to lose 10 pounds in the coming year. Really, we will.
Or think of smokers who promise, promise, promise to quit next year, next month, next — well, you get the idea.
The United States pledged to reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions to just over one-fourth below 2005 levels, which were about 6 billion tons. By 2019, thanks in large part to increased natural-gas use made possible by hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), US emissions were just under 5 billion tons, a reduction of more than 16 percent. By way of comparison, in 2019, world carbon-dioxide emissions were estimated to be just more than 34 billion tons and have been growing about 400 million tons a year over the past 10 years.
Jonathan A. Lesser, PhD, is the president of Continental Economics, an economic consulting firm, and an adjunct fellow with the Manhattan Institute. This piece is based on a recent report, Out to Sea: The Dismal Economics of Offshore Wind.
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