Climate Change

Climate Accord Nations Failing, Complaining and Buying Coal

The Paris deal was never going to work to slow temperature increases, all while coming at a great cost.

Jordan Candler · Feb. 22, 2018

The Paris climate accord, which the U.S. wisely vacated last year, accomplishes nothing in the way of meaningful environmental changes. One huge and inherent roadblock is that other nations are only halfheartedly and haphazardly invested. In fact, aside from the obvious fact that Barack Obama signed onto it unconstitutionally, that was one of conservatives’ biggest gripes against the Obama administration’s obsession with making the U.S. a captive of the agreement.

Not only is the accord a misnomer in that it won’t significantly alter future temperatures (realists rightfully doubt it will alter temperatures at all), but major pollution emitters other than the U.S. are far less inclined to clean up their act. The expectation of fecklessness by other nations wasn’t so much a prediction as an inevitability.

This week, a Washington Post story — “Countries made only modest climate-change promises in Paris. They’re falling short anyway.” — proves this is exactly the case. The articles says the persistence of deforestation in Brazil and the development of new coal plants in nations like Turkey and Indonesia are a few major reasons for the world’s “struggling to hit the relatively modest goals set in Paris.” In Germany, “The county’s emissions actually rose slightly in 2015 and 2016 because of continued coal burning and emissions growth in the transportation sector.”

With 2030 acting as the embryonic deadline for emissions targets, environmentalists are hoping that nations step up and push hard over the next 12 years to fulfill their obligations. As the Post notes, “The emissions-cutting pledges that countries brought to the table in Paris were nowhere near sufficient to meet such goals, which world leaders acknowledged at the time. The plan was for nations to ramp up their ambition over time.”

However, it continues, “By 2020, countries are expected to actually ramp up the promises they made in Paris.” This is a pipe dream. These nations were never expected to actually keep their promises, much less take initiative by going the extra mile. What makes anyone think they’ll change their ways in a few years?

Foreign nations can certainly be criticized for expecting the Paris climate accord to actually accomplish anything, not to mention their hypocrisy on the matter. But it’s not unreasonable for nations to put their interests ahead of a fairy tale accord. For example, The Washington Times reports: “As France, Germany and Italy chastised President Trump for rejecting the Paris climate accord in June and mocked the U.S. for turning its back on the environment, their nations were busy importing record amounts of American coal.”

An additional 95 million short tons of coal were shipped out of the U.S. last year. According to the Times, “About 31 million short tons of that went to Asia, nearly double the amount from 2016. China alone imported 2.8 million short tons through September 2017 — a wild increase over the previous year’s 205,000. Total exports to Europe reached 40 million short tons — 13 million more than in 2016.”

The U.S., thanks to Donald Trump, is making its economic interests a top priority by producing and exporting more energy resources. Meanwhile, other nations that greatly need them are happily taking it off our hands. It’s a win-win situation that benefits each nation. The bottom line? While the results are antithetical, contradictory and hypocritical regarding the rhetoric we’re hearing from “environmental leaders,” it demonstrates why the Paris climate accord will never work.

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