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We Will Always Have Paris

Tour Eiffel Paris France

The President’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord has caused international hyperventilation, and a minor rift in the Greve family. We all agree on three propositions:

  1. The U.S. should never agree to an international instrument that is called an “accord”: too French.
  2. A je suis d’accord that purports to save the planet by saying, vee all civilized nations may do what we may want to do by, say, 2030 or maybe later and if we don’t you can’t make us; and which then admits that even full compliance with its targets won’t make one whit of difference to the climate, is obviously silly.
  3. It’s not silly if you think that the point is to empower U.S. constituencies that insist on turning energy into a luxury good. That’s what this is about. BAD. Mais non. Covfefe.

Our family agreement ends there. My beloved wife, far more experienced in international affairs than I am, says that we should have stayed in. It’s a religion to the Europeans, she says; it doesn’t really make a difference; and the way to appease them is to send some fifteen-year-old to the international confabs. Treating the whole thing as the joke that it is, while reminding the Europeans that they have real, carbon-powered enemies that only we are willing to defeat might persuade Mrs. Merkel & Co to actually take care of their own destiny. (Although when German leaders talk that way in a Munich beer hall, you have to hope they don’t mean it.)

I believe, with Saints Paul and Barack Obama, that the time has come to put away childish things. On this issue, it looks like the candy-colored clown we call the President is the only adult in town.

Reader Discussion

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on June 02, 2017 at 12:49:05 pm

Eh.

1. I agree that the accord didn't really do a lot. Of course, that's because the US insisted that the Kyoto Protocols be watered down. When I hear a hypocrite protesting that that is shocked, SHOCKED to learn that there was gambling going on, I generally find it funnier when its the Frenchman saying it, not the American.

2. If we're going to judge the accord based on its consequences for climate change, then we should also judge the choice to withdraw from the accord on that basis. What tangible good does anyone see coming from Trump's actions? After all, we all embrace fictions in foreign policy just to get alone: the One China Policy, the Cashmere Shuffle, the Feigned Interest in Palestine. How does the choice to withdraw from the Paris Accord achieve something better than simply ignoring the Paris Accord?

3. And I'm not entirely willing to concede that the Paris Accord was so ineffective. No, by itself, it wouldn't do a lot for the planet. But it was a confidence-building measure: An opportunity for all nations of the world to signal an acknowledgement of a problem, and joint responsibility for that problem. You can say that symbolism is cheap--until you try to create it; this was damn hard to put together. And now, as with the TPP, Trump has casually chosen to trash it, trashing years of international goodwill, tossing world leadership to China, all so that the US can ... accomplish what, exactly?

Let Trump's base enjoy a moment of spite? As far as I can tell, that's all that anyone's getting out out of this.

4. To shift from the merits to the law: The Paris Accord was not a Treaty under US law, and was never ratified by the Senate. Yet I hear that the US is allegedly bound by the accord's long exist provisions. Now, since the accord doesn't actually compel anyone to do anything, I guess there's no harm in that. But under what authority could one presidential administration bind the next one via some kind of never-ratified non-treaty, even for a brief period?

(Ok allegedly the Treasury is constrained in discriminating among bondholders when making payments. In this sense, each administration that leaves the US in debt is constraining the next administration's power to borrow, or to target payments to US citizens who hold bonds. But otherwise?)

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nobody.really
on June 04, 2017 at 09:04:25 am

Oh how dear!

"Confidence building" - What are we now concerned with the *self-esteem* of the EU as we are with grade school children (probably an appropriate disposition, Heh)

And all at the minor cost of what? Billions upon billions.

Update: German economic minister announces that with US withdrawal, Germany will have to reconsider its own policies BECAUSE they are too expensive and make them uncompetitive. Energy and power are already too high, claims he.

And you do admit that the Accord really did not do much to "Save the Planet"

Simple Question: why bother, especially when the *data* has been shown to be less than reliable (I won't say more for fear that Michael Mann may come after my gazillions)

Oops, I get it, it is to keep the Environmental administrators and NGO's of the world in fine wines and nice restaurants, to permit the Al Gores of the world to amass huge fortunes (not to mention waistline).

Stifle it, Edith!

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gabe
on June 04, 2017 at 09:15:03 am

A key point is missing -- there *is* no climate change catastrophe, therefore it's useless to spend time on even toothless agreements like Paris.

https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/when-will-climate-scientists-say-they-were-wrong

And the idea of endulging Europe because they're sensitive and will feel bad if we don't? Time for them to grow up.

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Ray
on June 04, 2017 at 10:03:42 am

Update: German economic minister announces that with US withdrawal, Germany will have to reconsider its own policies BECAUSE they are too expensive and make them uncompetitive. Energy and power are already too high, claims he.

I think Germany had cause for concerns about its current and forecast price of electricity, but that is not any reflection on global warming; it's a reflection on odd German public policy choices.

Most significantly, following the meltdown at Japan's Fukashima nuclear plant, Germany opted to phase out all of its nuclear plants abruptly. There was no climate reason for doing so; quite the contrary, nuclear energy emits little carbon. But the choice to retire generators that still had a long operating life, and to secure substitute sources of energy, is expensive. Note that Germany lacks the natural gas resources enjoyed by the US.

In addition, Germany adopted an incentive program for rooftop solar that was simply too generous--and this policy then became too politically popular to repeal. And yes, a policy with a sound purpose may still be badly designed. Again, an expensive choice.

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nobody.really
on June 04, 2017 at 10:14:14 am

"but that is not any reflection on global warming; it’s a reflection on odd German public policy choices."

No, but it was the result of a "concern" about global warming that lead to the "odd" economic policies, was it not?

Germany may lack natural gas, but if i recall correctly, it does not lack coal resources. Again, we observe the distorting effects of a *religiously* based industrial / energy policy.

We are in agreement - *odd* policies, indeed!

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gabe
on June 04, 2017 at 21:52:17 pm

I think Germany had cause for concerns about its current and forecast price of electricity, but that is not any reflection on global warming; it’s a reflection on odd German public policy choices.

Most significantly, following the meltdown at Japan’s Fukashima nuclear plant, Germany opted to phase out all of its nuclear plants abruptly. There was no climate reason for doing so; quite the contrary, nuclear energy emits little carbon.

“but that is not any reflection on global warming; it’s a reflection on odd German public policy choices.”

No, but it was the result of a “concern” about global warming that lead to the “odd” economic policies, was it not?

No, it was not.

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nobody.really

Law & Liberty welcomes civil and lively discussion of its articles. Abusive comments will not be tolerated. We reserve the right to delete comments - or ban users - without notification or explanation.