President Donald Trump is right to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate change agreement, even if America is the only nation to do so.
The goal of Paris – “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels,” – is impossible, of course. We cannot control “Earth’s temperature” as if we had a global thermostat.
But even if it were possible, Paris would accomplish little since developing countries, the source of most of humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions, do not have to keep their emission reduction targets.
Like all United Nations climate treaties, the Paris Agreement is based on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. According to Article 4 of the UNFCCC, “economic and social development and poverty eradication are the first and overriding priorities of the developing country parties.”
Actions to significantly reduce CO2 emissions – the main greenhouse gas produced by human activity – in developing countries would involve dramatically cutting back the use of coal, the source of 71 percent of India’s electricity and 81 percent of China’s. Since coal is the cheapest source of power in most of the world, reducing CO2 emissions by restricting coal use would unquestionably interfere with development priorities. So, no matter what they promise with respect to emissions reduction, developing countries almost certainly won’t do it, citing the UNFCCC in support of their decisions. Developed nations must keep their emission commitments, no matter how much it damages their economies.
The Paris Agreement is about wealth transfer, not environmental protection.
Tom Harris, mechanical engineer
International Climate Science Coalition
28 Tiverton Dr.
Ottawa, Ontario K2E 6L5 Canada