The US doesn’t need the Paris agreement to steer the climate movement. By not signing, the US government can put fate in our own hands. Without the US, the Paris agreement puts real pressure on China. It would expose Xi’s regime for the ‘do-good’ phonies they are.
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The scoop: Biden vowed to sign the Paris agreement in his first day in office. As an environmentalist, I think it’s all hype no action.
Why Paris no bien:
- It’s a pledge, not a policy. There’s no binding enforcement mechanism. So a country like Russia or Mexico can agree to it, but it doesn’t hold them accountable.
- It lets China off the hook. China, the #1 carbon emitter in the world, can hide behind the US if we re-join it. If the US led the world on climate policy without Paris, it would expose China’s energy reality (they are slated to make up nearly half of global coal demand in 2024).
Bottom line: We get it, Trump sucks and he left the Paris agreement so the Paris agreement must be amazing. Well, the Paris agreement is ultimately not that significant in terms of climate action. Policy reform > pretty pictures
Dig deeper → 2 min
Last month, I highlighted the UN’s unwillingness to criticize China. Despite human right violations, the UN praised China’s shaky carbon neutral pledge.
As Bloomberg Intelligence noted, it’s clear China has no real intention of slowing down coal production… Chinese coal is currently at peak output levels. It is statistically impossible for China to reach its ambitious goals without a complete overhaul of their energy sector.
Here’s the chart one more time for your review:
By sticking to the Paris agreement, we give China a free pass.
Former NASA scientist and climate change expert James Hansen criticized the Paris agreement. If you haven’t heard of him, Hansen is widely known as the father of climate change awareness. To put it bluntly, he called it a ‘fraud’, a loose string of promises with no action.
Other critics note how the entire agreement itself is predicated on the assumption that signed nations such as China, India, Russia, Japan, Germany, South Korea, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Indonesia and Mexico, will coordinate a standardized plan to reduce carbon emissions significantly without a binding enforcement mechanism.
Keep in mind, international agreements already have a history of weak enforcement. Now we expect competing governments to intentionally slow down their economies in the name of climate change? It’s sounds pretty, but it’s not realistic.
What if the US followed climate standards without Paris?
If Biden wants to follow the Paris agreement’s stated outcomes, why do we need to sign it? We are the boss. The de-facto CEO of the world. Signing a pretty parchment paper with a bunch of flags and symbols doesn’t change US climate policy… bureaucrats, lawmakers and judges change US climate policy.
If we successfully do our part on climate change, what’s stopping us from sharing our blueprint with the world? Wouldn’t the ultimate political success be to do it ourselves? We have the tools to do it, especially since the Paris agreement doesn’t offer us any tools. It would show the world that you don’t need negative reinforcement/international accountability to achieve goals for the greater good of mankind.
Reason over rhyme
From a capitalist perspective: if you had a really successful business, would you work with competitors on a technology you could build in-house? From a humanitarian perspective: if you had the blueprint and tools to save your country, would you rather work on it with your family or work on it with fake friends?
In a society plagued by oversocialized and underinformed activists, the Paris agreement seems the perfect fit. Talk about making change and then go home and watch Netflix.
Without any binding component, what is the real intention behind the Paris agreement? It seems like a sophomore International Relations major at GWU could have compiled a more hearty document.
The US doesn’t need the Paris agreement, the Paris agreement needs us. You may not see it on your daily news digest of protests, but the US is still in the midst of an unprecedented information war with China. It’s time we reveal just how lackadaisical China is on environmental standards.