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Path from Paris

May 5, 2017

Climate Change Weekly #248

A short time ago The American Spectator ran an article I wrote explaining why President Donald Trump should withdraw post-haste from the Paris climate agreement. Without repeating all the arguments I gave then, the reasons boil down to these two: The agreement is a bad deal for America, and Trump promised to do so. While there may be a better deal to be had – the Obama administration could hardly have negotiated a worse deal for our country – no deal would be a good deal for the United States. Even Trump can’t put lipstick on this pig.

Under any treaty, any treaty whatsoever, the government would have to force the American people and American businesses to do with less energy and less reliable energy, and pay more for it. Capping our emissions at current levels locks us into the kind of tepid economic growth we experienced during the Obama years, accompanied by the further decline of the coal industry, both outcomes Trump rightly decried as a candidate for president. In addition, there is no deal without the United States chipping in to the political slush fund called the Green Climate Fund, yet Trump promised to halt such payments, so nothing is gained by staying in.

Having addressed why Trump should keep his word and withdraw from Paris, the question is how he ought to do so. There are three ways to get the United States out of the agreement.

The first way, the one that most directly satisfies Trump’s campaign commitment, is simply to withdraw the United States’ signature from the document. Any country can withdraw from the agreement by giving written notice of a decision to do so to the United Nations Secretary General. Unfortunately, under the terms of the agreement, Trump can’t give such notice until three years after the agreement came into force, which would be October 5, 2019, and the withdrawal does not become effective until a year later. Thus, even if Trump determines to withdraw from the Paris agreement, we are stuck with it for a minimum of nearly four years, during which time the United States remains a party to the agreement obligated to keep commitments made under it. Worse, because the four-year withdrawal period will not run out until after Trump’s first term of office is over, should he decide not to run for president again, or should he run for reelection and lose, the next president can recommit to the agreement with a simple signature.

The second way to scotch the country’s commitments under the Paris climate agreement would be for Trump to submit the agreement to the Senate for formal approval as a treaty. This is what Obama should have done in the first place. To become a binding treaty, the Senate would have to approve the Paris climate agreement by a supermajority of 2/3 of the Senate – 67 votes in favor. If the agreement were to lose the treaty vote, the agreement is canceled with regards to U.S. participation. The Senate having spoken, future presidents would be on notice not to put such a harmful agreement forward. However, nothing requires the Senate to hold an up-or-down vote on the Paris climate agreement if Trump submits it to the Senate. Using the Senate filibuster rules, Senate Democrats could prevent the treaty from coming up for a vote, leaving it in limbo. That scenario is entirely likely, given that the vast majority of Democrats support the Paris agreement and do not want to see it die. Under this scenario, the treaty would remain pending, leaving a future Senate, perhaps made up of greater numbers of Senators favorable to the agreement, to decide its fate.

Finally, the easiest way for Trump to end the United States’ participation in Paris and all international climate agreements would be for him to remove the country’s signature from the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), signed by President George H.W. Bush in 1992. Article 25 of the UNFCCC allows any state party to the convention to withdraw, without further obligation, upon giving one year’s notice. Withdrawing from the UNFCCC would cancel the United States’ obligations to all other U.N.-brokered climate agreements subsequent to it. In my opinion (and others’; see Donn Dears’ recent book, Clexit), this would be the cleanest and best way to get out of Paris and all the other climate agreement debacles.

– H. Sterling Burnett

SOURCE: The American Spectator


IN THIS ISSUE …

U.S., the Saudi Arabia of natural gasClimate reaslists under fire (literally)Antarctic Peninsula cooling‘Big Oil’ backing Paris deal


U.S., THE SAUDI ARABIA OF NATURAL GAS

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) gave Golden Pass Products permission to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal to deliver LNG to countries lacking free-trade agreements with the United States.

This first LNG export terminal approved by the Trump administration would be capable of shipping 2.21 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of natural gas around the world. Trump continues to deliver on his promise to unleash domestic energy production, build infrastructure, and grow jobs: Golden Pass estimates the facility will create 45,000 direct and indirect jobs over the next five years and generate up to $3.6 billion in federal and state tax revenues.

“This announcement is another example of President Trump’s leadership in making the United States an energy dominant force,” Energy Secretary Rick Perry said in a press statement. “This is not only good for our economy and American jobs but also assists other countries with their energy security.”

The International Energy Agency has estimated global demand for natural gas will be 50 percent higher by 2035 than it is now, meaning LNG is a growth industry. There are currently two LNG export terminals operating in the United States, with 15 new LNG export terminals already approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (eight of which are currently under construction), and 14 more in the permitting process. If all the LNG export terminals currently existing, under construction, approved, and proposed come online, at full capacity, the United States would be able to export 16,111 Bcf/yr, or 44 Bcf/d – - the equivalent of 7.8 million barrels of oil per day (mbl/d). Saudi Arabia exported 7.4 million mbl/d of crude oil in 2013 – at full capacity the United States would become the Saudi Arabia of natural gas.

SOURCES: The Daily Caller and Watts Up With That


CLIMATE REALISTS UNDER FIRE (LITERALLY)

Campus police at the University of Alabama at Huntsville are investigating shots that struck the building that houses the offices of University of Alabama-Huntsville (UAH) climate researchers John Christy and Roy Spencer. The windows of the fourth floor UAH National Space Science and Technology Center were hit by seven shots on March 22, the same day the “March for Science” took place a couple of blocks away.

Spencer says he believes this was an act of ecoterrorism, defined by the FBI as “the use or threatened use of violence of a criminal nature against people or property by an environmentally oriented, subnational group for environmental-political reasons, or aimed at an audience beyond the target, often of a symbolic nature.”

“John and I have testified in Congress many times on our work,” Spencer said. “For the last 25 years our science has been viewed as standing in the way of efforts to institute a carbon tax or otherwise reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The amount of money involved in such changes in energy policy easily run into the hundreds of billions of dollars … more likely trillions, … people have been killed for much less reason than hundreds of billions of dollars.”

SOURCE: Dr. Roy Spencer’s Blog


ANTARCTIC PENINSULA COOLING

Climate alarmists have claimed Earth’s human-generated warming should be most evident in higher temperatures at the North and South Poles. Yet a 2017 study in Science of the Total Environment confirms what studies from 2013 and 2016 also found: Temperatures on the Antarctic Peninsula are cooling, not warming. Using air temperature data from ten stations distributed across the Antarctic Peninsula from 1950 to 2015, the scientists write, “from 1998 onward, a turning point has been observed in the evolution of mean annual air temperatures across the Antarctic Peninsula region, changing from a warming to a cooling trend.” This cooling represented a 0.5 to 0.9 °C decrease across most of the Antarctic Peninsula.

The researchers find Antarctic Peninsula temperatures are driven by and fluctuate with large scale, natural, atmospheric phenomena such the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. The scientists also pointed to independent evidence from multiple other sources in support of their claim of regional cooling, including an “increase in the extent of sea ice, positive mass-balance of peripheral glaciers, and thinning of the active layer of permafrost.”

SOURCE: CO2 Science


BIG OIL BACKING PARIS DEAL

Big Oil is pushing the Trump administration to stay in the Paris climate agreement and short-term self-interest is why. BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, and Royal Dutch Shell have backed keeping America in the agreement. For instance, a BP representative told CNN Money it “welcomed the Paris agreement when it was signed, and we continue to support it. ... We believe it’s possible to provide the energy the world needs while also addressing the climate challenge.” ExxonMobil sent a letter to the White House last month calling the Paris agreement an “effective framework for addressing the risks of climate change.”

Big Oil is backing an agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which the burning of oil produces in abundance, because they are no longer “oil” companies but rather are becoming “oil and gas” companies. Natural gas, which emits less carbon dioxide than either coal or oil, is replacing coal for electric power production, a trend the emission cuts required by the Paris agreement will almost certainly expedite, so traditional oil companies have invested heavily in natural gas. As they see it, coal’s losses under Paris will be their gain.

CNN Money reports “42% of Exxon’s total daily production last quarter was actually in natural gas,” and Shell made a $50 billion purchase of natural gas producer BG Group in 2016.

“These companies view natural gas as a key growth area going forward for them. It just makes sense for them to be at the table,” Brian Youngberg, senior energy analyst at Edward Jones, told CNN Money.

While the Paris climate agreement may sound in the short term like a dinner bell for oil/gas companies slavering at the prospect of dining on coal’s corpse, it may in fact be the death knell sounding for them in the long-term as anti-fossil fuel activists sharpen their knives to dine on oil and gas companies even before coal is totally consumed. After all, if reducing greenhouse gases to fight climate change is a good reason to force the switch from coal to natural gas, wouldn’t it be better still to end such emissions altogether (as if we in reality could) by tuning off the gas spigots and building more wind, solar, and even dreaded hydro and nuclear power plants?

SOURCE: CNN Money

Author
H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. is a Heartland research fellow on environmental policy and the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.
hsburnett@heartland.org

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