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U.S., Not Paris Participants, Cuts Carbon Dioxide

August 3, 2018

Climate Change Weekly #294

When President Donald Trump announced he was pulling the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord in June 2017, left-wing environmentalists around the globe were apoplectic. From Canada to China and throughout Europe, Asia, and Brazil, the world denounced Trump’s decision as recklessly contradicting “settled science.” Without the Paris Agreement, they argued, Earth would soon find itself cascading off the global warming cliff.

One year later, Earth is still here, and new evidence shows, alarmists’ claims to the contrary, the United States continues to lead the world in reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

According to a June report by BP measuring global CO2 emissions from the use of oil, gas, and coal, the United States reduced its CO2 emissions by 41.8 million tons, marking the third consecutive year Americans’ CO2 emissions fell. From 2006 to 2016, the United States slashed its CO2 emissions by about 12 percent, BP reports.

The decade-long decline in U.S. CO2 emissions is attributable primarily to the increased consumption of natural gas relative to other forms of energy.

In the wake of America’s declining CO2 emissions, dire predictions of Armageddon are just another example of global warming alarmists’ fearmongering. Leaders of countries big and small criticized Trump for keeping his campaign promise and withdrawing the United States from the Paris Climate Accord. Yet in 2017, just a year after Paris, many of these leaders presided over countries that emitted millions of tons of additional carbon dioxide emissions, illustrating clearly the hypocrisy and utter impotency of the accord.

China, for example, increased its CO2 emissions in 2017 by 119 million tons—the most in the world—despite its alleged commitment to the Paris Accord.

French President Emmanuel Macron previously castigated Trump for pulling out of the Paris Agreement, stating, “I tell you firmly tonight: we will not renegotiate a less ambitious accord. There is no way. Don’t be mistaken on climate: there is no plan B because there is no planet B.” Apparently, however, there was a plan B: a plan in which France jacked up its CO2 emissions by 5.5 million tons.

According to The Guardian, Izabella Teixeira, who led Brazil’s negotiating team in Paris, described Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Agreement as a “heart attack.” Perhaps a heart attack is in the offing, but it won’t happen because of the United States’ CO2 emissions. On the other hand, Brazil’s record, where the largest carbon dioxide emitter on the South American continent raised its CO2 emissions by 4.7 million tons in 2017 alone and by approximately 32 percent over the past decade, would bear some responsibility for the “heart attack” Teixeira predicted.

The Canadian government might deserve the crown for being the world’s biggest CO2 charlatan. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau criticized the Trump administration’s decision to leave the Paris Accord, saying he was “deeply disappointed” while crowing for the world to hear, “Canada is unwavering in our commitment to fight climate change and support clean economic growth.” Canada then proceeded to emit 17 million additional tons of CO2 in 2017 compared to 2016. Is the definition of “unwavering” that different north of the U.S. border?

Sadly, hypocrisy is more the rule rather than the exception in politics. All too often, “leaders” pontificate on positive reform while hesitating to take the substantial actions necessary to fix big problems. Consider immigration or the social safety net for retirees, for example. In this instance, however, the fact the Paris climate cabal leaders’ actions don’t match their words is a blessing, because the world is much better with the affordable energy generated by fossil fuels and the tremendous economic, social, and public health benefits they have delivered for more than two centuries. Cutting carbon dioxide emissions by the amount necessary under the Paris Agreement would take developed countries back to the economic standards of the nineteenth century and blunt the economic and social progress in several developing countries. Nothing could be more foolish or misguided than that.

  • Guest essayist Justin Haskins and H. Sterling Burnett. Haskins is an executive editor and research fellow with The Heartland Institute.

SOURCES: BP; The Guardian; Fox News


IN THIS ISSUE …

EU backs off climate criticism in trade dealThe world is getting betterHeat deaths decline in India, Spain


EU BACKS OFF CLIMATE CRITICISM IN TRADE DEAL

In an effort to deescalate the prospects of a trade war, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker came to the United States and met with President Donald Trump, agreeing to buy more natural gas from the United States.

“We agreed to a strengthened and strengthening of our strategic cooperation with respect to energy,” Trump announced at a press conference with Juncker. “The European Union wants to import more liquefied natural gas, LNG, from the United States. … We're going to make it much easier for them, but they're going to be a massive buyer of LNG.”

Juncker said the EU would expedite the construction of LNG import terminals to increase the amount of LNG it can buy from the United States. In a change from past trade talks, Juncker did not raise any environmental concerns or mention the EU’s prior statements any future trade deals would be tied to the United States staying in the Paris climate agreement.

In February, by contrast, EU Trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström tweeted a reversal of the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris agreement was essential to any trade deal between the EU and the United States, and in 2017 various EU countries’ leaders, who had lobbied Trump to stay in the Paris agreement, indicated revival of any transatlantic trade agreement talks were conditional on his willingness to keep U.S. CO2 emission reduction commitments under the Paris agreement.

With Trump’s trade actions threatening EU automakers and farmers, the EU changed its tune by the time of the July 25 joint announcement: the trade negotiations and commitments to buy U.S. natural gas did not include any reference to carbon-dioxide targets.

Jonathan Gaventa, director of E3G, a European think tank devoted to “accelerat[ing] the global transition to sustainable development,” bemoaned the fact trade concerns are evidently trumping environmental concerns for EU leaders.

“[Juncker’s] clear priority was to de-escalate the trade dispute with the US and to some extent that has been achieved for now,” Euractiv reports Gaventa saying. “To do that the commission has diverged from its own line about the importance of the Paris Agreement and environmental standards in trade deals.”

SOURCES: Euractiv; CNBC


THE WORLD IS GETTING BETTER

Although the mainstream media of print, radio, and television are dominated by horror stories and apocalyptic claims under the idea “If it bleeds, it leads”—thus the huge amount of coverage given to purported catastrophic climate change, for example—tied to publishers and producers understanding people pay more attention to negative rather than positive news and the need to sell ads, by any reasonable measure the world is getting better and better for humans.

Writing in Singularity Hub, Raya Bidshahri, founder of Aweacademy, draws data from Steven Pinker’s newest book, Enlightenment Now, to demonstrate human progress proceeds apace, and human flourishing, as measured by health, lifespans, peace, prosperity, and safety, is increasing.

In 2017, “the world had 12 ongoing wars, 60 autocracies, 10 percent of the world population in extreme poverty, and more than 10,000 nuclear weapons, . . . [whereas] 30 years ago, there were 23 wars, 85 autocracies, 37 percent of the world population in extreme poverty, and more than 60,000 nuclear weapons”—clear improvement across all measures, according to Bidshahri, citing Pinker. Bidshahri also points out, “We are living longer than ever before. For most of human history, life expectancy at birth was around 30. Today it is more than 70 worldwide, and in the developed parts of the world, more than 80.”

In addition, more people are literate and live in democracies now than ever before. In the 1600s, just 15 percent of Europeans could read and write; today, more than 90 percent of the world’s population under the age of 25 can, and now two-thirds of the world’s people live in democracies, as opposed to autocracies, various types of monarchies, or under distant colonial rule.

As to safety, deaths from accidents are historically low, with Bidshahri writing, “Over the last century, we’ve become 96 percent less likely to be killed in a car crash, 99 percent less likely to die in a plane crash, 95 percent less likely to be killed on the job, and 89 percent less likely to be killed by a natural disaster thanks to advancements in infrastructure.”

SOURCE: Singularity Hub


HEAT DEATHS DECLINE IN INDIA, SPAIN

Mounting evidence from around the world shows heat-related deaths are declining as a result of adaptation and technological and social interventions—even in places where summer temperatures have risen modestly.

In India, where government authorities and nongovernmental organizations have implemented programs to reduce the death toll from the country’s intense heat between March and July each year, the number of heat-related deaths has dropped dramatically since 2015. India’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) reports in 2018 just 13 people died from exposure to extreme temperatures, compared to 2,422 in 2015 and 250 in 2017 during the same time period. With more than 1.7 million homeless people, intermittent electricity supplies, and poor access to drinking water in many areas, India has long been plagued with deaths related to extreme heat.

To curb heat-related deaths, in 2016 NDMA launched a series of initiatives, including painting roofs white to reduce heat absorption; getting state governments to adjust working hours to limit the number of workers laboring during periods of extremely hot weather; establishing public drinking water kiosks supplied by water tankers; and setting up homeless shelters, CNN reports. In addition, hospitals have been stocked with rehydration solution and other supplies to respond to heatstroke, and NDMA launched an aggressive advertising campaign to “reiterate common-sense measures like staying hydrated or covering one’s head before venturing outdoors during daytime, through posters as well as social media platforms using the hashtag #BeatTheHeatIndia,” writes CNN. The number of people made ill by high temperatures also fell dramatically, from almost 40,000 cases in 2017 to a little over 1,000 in 2018.

The news from Spain is similar. A new study shows heat-related deaths have declined even though average summer temperatures have risen by more than 1 degree Celsius since 1980, suggesting the people of Spain are adapting to warmer temperatures, according to researchers at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health.

The study, published in PLoS Medicine, compared data on daily temperatures and deaths in 47 provincial capitals in Spain each summer from 1980 to 2015, finding even as the average summer temperatures increased approximately 0.33 degrees Celsius per decade, heat-related deaths declined by about half a percent per decade.

According to EurekAlert!, Joan Ballester, the lead author of the study, stated, “We are becoming less vulnerable to heat thanks to society’s adaptation to higher temperatures and also to the socioeconomic development we have seen in recent decades. Improvements in housing stock, the popularization of air conditioning, advances in health services, and awareness campaigns are all factors that may have contributed to the trend we are seeing.”

SOURCES: EurekAlert; CNN

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

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