When it came to deciding on the Paris Climate Agreement, President Trump was trapped between a rock and a hard place. If he decided to keep the US in the Paris agreement, he would’ve risked incurring the anger of his own supporters, since he promised them during the campaign that he would withdraw the US from the agreement. On the other hand, if he did withdraw the US from the Paris agreement, he would surely provoke the wrath of the mainstream media networks, liberal Democrats, and foreign leaders.
In a recent post, I specifically weighed the two choices and which one President Trump may be influenced to pick. I personally guessed that he would’ve have chosen to stay in but I myself should know the futility of trying to predict anything related to President Trump. True to his campaign promise, President Trump did announce today that he was withdrawing the US from the Paris agreement but that he would leave the door open for renegotiation.
If you were to take a general sample of the reactions to Trump’s decision, it would boil down to jubilation from Republicans and doomsday predictions from the Democrats. Senator Rand Paul, in fact, mocked some of those upset, calling them “alarmists” for predicting that mass extinction would result from Trump’s decision.
However, this level of fear-mongering is even more ridiculous when you consider how purely symbolic the Paris Climate Agreement really is. Yes, every nation in the world has signed on except Venezuela and Nicaragua. But the actual Paris agreement lets individual nations set their own plans to reduce their carbon footprints, and doesn’t hold those nations to their plans if they fail, meaning there are no penalties.
Not to repeat from my previous article, but this international agreement is nothing more than a feel-good move by world leaders. It should especially raise red flags that major carbon polluters like China and India, who have falsified their own emissions data in the past, are signatories of this agreement. Even with the US’s full participation, the success of this agreement would have been very minor at best.
I said Trump’s choice would boil down to optics and it seems he chose to stick to the anti-establishment course he has been charting while appeasing his loyal supporters. During his speech, Trump cited all the job killing measures that the Paris agreement would force upon the US while also noting how much money that the US had been contributing to the UN’s Green Fund.
Certainly, there would have been economic consequences if Trump had stuck to the original plan established by President Obama. According to a study, if the US actually completely followed President Obama’s plan until 2025, we would see an average loss of nearly 400,000 jobs, an average loss of over 200,000 manufacturing jobs, a total income loss of more than $20,000 per each family of four, a $2.5 trillion loss in aggregate GDP, and a 13 to 20 percent increase in electricity expenditures per household.
This, combined with billions of dollars worth of contributions to UN’s Green Fund that would supposedly help developing nations fight climate change, would certainly not do the American economy a favor. But while Trump made a point about citing the negative effects of the Paris agreement, he failed to mention the most key factor, that is, the fact that these consequences will only happen if he keeps the following President Obama’s suggested course of action through regulations.
In reality, President Trump could’ve kept the US in the Paris Climate Agreement but refused to actually reduce emissions and contribute to the UN’s Green Fund, which would not result in any actual consequences for the US, other than some likely criticism from European or UN leaders. Additionally, chances are likely that India and China may also not adhere to their reduction plans, just proving how ineffective the Paris Climate Agreement really is. Of course, the optics of that aren’t so flattering in the aspect that it makes Trump look like he had caved under pressure and not followed through on one of his campaign promises.
While I do not believe Trump’s decision to pull the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement was a bad decision, I do not believe it was the best one. In fact, the best strategy would have been to let the Senate kill the agreement. The Senate is required to approve all treaties and although President Obama worked around that requirement by calling it an agreement, Trump could’ve simply forwarded that decision to the Republicans in the Senate anyways, letting them reject it instead. That way, Trump could paint America’s withdrawal from the Paris agreement, not as a slight to world leaders, but as a result of internal domestic politics.
Nonetheless, the decision has been made and no, the world will not fall apart over night. In fact, Trump has even still thrown environmentalists a bone by saying he is open to renegotiation although what and how that will look is pretty uncertain and unlikely.
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