The promise to keep
Trump said he would shun the Paris treaty, and shun it he must
President Trump usually prefers to blaze his own path through the thicket of global diplomacy — “globaloney” a wit once called it — much to the dismay of the scented-handkerchief crowd. He softened his skepticism of NATO, and that’s a good thing, and postponed a final decision on whether to keep his promise to withdraw the United States from the Paris treaty on global warming. He wanted to keep the good feelings intact at the G-7 summit.
But now it’s time to keep the promise, and there’s loud and welcome buzz across the capital that he’s about to do it. Pulling out will be an important promise kept. The Paris accord is one of the most dangerous international treaties in many years. It would commit the U.S. to reduce carbon emissions by nearly 30 percent below 2005 levels.
Proponents of this flawed treaty say that the United States will forfeit its world leadership role by withdrawing, but that’s silly. America leads because there is no alternative to the United States, and that’s the source of much European frustration. Europe desperately wants America to join the climate change agenda. France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and others bet their economies on green energy a decade ago and now they’re saddled with electricity prices that are on average twice as high as those in America. Their businesses are having a hard time competing with American companies powered with low-priced coal and natural gas. They want the United States to suffer because they’re suffering. Misery loves company.
The first victims would be American workers. A Heritage Foundation economic analysis finds that the Paris Accord would cost the average American family of four $30,000 in cumulative higher electricity prices over the next decade. Some 400,000 well-paid trucking, oil, gas, manufacturing and construction jobs would be lost. The price to the American economy would be $2.5 trillion — the biggest global tax ever imposed on America.
There’s an absurd green energy slush fund, essentially money to enrich the environmental bureaucrats. The treaty seeks $100 billion in payments from rich nations to poor nations over the next decade, and anyone can see whose taxpayers are counted on to contribute the money for that.
President Trump said during the campaign last year that the rest of the world is laughing behind America’s back, and never would that be more evident than if the United States becomes a party to the ruinous Paris accord. This is a shakedown of the American taxpayer for a treaty that will do nothing to save or clean up the planet.
This might be worth the cost, as enormous as it would be, if there were a genuine environmental benefit. Alas, there is none. China and India — by far the two largest polluters — have announced they will build hundreds of new coal-fired plants to power economic expansion. They’re not about to let climate change concerns stall their economic engines. China first, India first, and no apology. But America is expected to sign a treaty that would decree that for every coal plant closed in Ohio or shuttered in West Virginia, China and India would build 10 new plants.
China and India are not alone in flouting commitments. The Europeans almost never honor their treaty pledges. Last week President Trump tartly observed that at the very time the G-7 leaders were lining up to hector and lecture the United States, these same nations had failed to honor their commitments to NATO to spend 2 percent of their GDP on national defense. They’re collectively at least $150 billion short on paying their dues every year.
Europe pledged as part of the commitment to the European Union to bring their deficits below 3 percent of GDP, and most of these nations have been consistently short of the target. Even on climate change, the Europeans and Asians aren’t close to redeeming the promises they made under the Kyoto treaty. The United States have reduced greenhouse gas emissions more over the last seven years than the Europeans have, and the United States never signed the predecessor of the Paris accord. But the Europeans have contributed more empty pious rhetoric than anyone else.
Mr. Trump would be right to walk away from a treaty intended to put America last. The president should put the Paris treaty aside and get on with creating jobs for Americans. That’s why the Americans elected him.