In order to gain some perspective beyond the hysteria over the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, let’s take a look at some recent history.
As a member of the first presidential administration to actually do something about lowering the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, I can report that no other industrialized nation has come anywhere close to what our country has done to deal with climate change.
Following the 2007 Supreme Court’s decision to treat CO2 as a pollutant, the Bush Administration instructed the Environmental Protection Agency to proceed with issuing the first ever regulatory measures to do so.
Following the next election, the Obama Administration began writing new rules to limit the release of other greenhouse gasses using various interpretations of existing environmental law.
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In the meantime, with the Democrats controlling a majority in both houses of Congress, new law was drafted to specifically deal with global warming.
With so many members from states where job losses and economic harm would come from such legislation, the party in power at the time failed to pass any new statutes to deal with climate change.
Obama proceeded anyway and launched the largest ever roll out of environmental rules in the history of the agency that was created in 1970 in the Nixon Administration.
There were three main targets to rein in greenhouse gas emissions. First was the automobile industry and then the development of new power plants. Those new rules were accommodated without much pushback.
The third, and most comprehensive, was aimed at electricity generation from existing power plants to carry out Obama’s mandate to effectively shut down the use of coal as a fuel source.
While those controversial regulations remain under review at the Supreme Court, many states’ power generators have proceeded to implement these rules.
They are being so accommodating largely as a result of the emergence of huge increases in the supply of cheaper natural gas made available via fracking.
Other cuts in greenhouse gas emissions are being achieved via the use of market-driven renewable energy sources.
Understanding all that has been done in our country in the past ten years to address global warming makes all of the rhetorical posturing over President Donald Trump’s decision for the U.S. to depart from the Paris pact rings hollow.
Our country’s leadership in dealing with climate change is exemplary to the rest of the world. With or without a toothless international agreement, we’ve demonstrated immense progress for all others to follow.
While greenhouse gas emissions are being significantly cut here, the two largest contributors to atmospheric carbon levels — China and India — were excused in the voluntary and non-binding agreement from having to do anything meaningful to help solve the problem for 15 years.
The result is our energy-related industries suffer trillions of dollars in costs and the loss of tens of thousands of jobs while other nations thrive on the advance of their economies by burning all the fossil fuels they wish.
Even the best scientific estimates say if all the countries that signed the Paris agreement did what they said they would do, the temperature reduction by the year 2100 would be minuscule.
Trump has shown true leadership in getting us out of such a bad deal. It was never a good deal for us nor was it an actual solution to global warming.
Meanwhile, according to NASA’s findings of significant increases in polar ice during the past 25 years, the planet seems to be doing just fine on its own.
Richard Greene is a former Arlington mayor and served as an appointee of President George W. Bush as regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency.