On June 1, President Donald Trump announced the United States is pulling out of the Paris climate accord. The decision was met with both praise and criticism, but despite the heated rhetoric, people living in the Plains states should be pleased with the president’s choice to abandon this costly and burdensome agreement.
The Paris accord is part of the 1992 U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Its primary goal is to prevent Earth’s global temperature from increasing 2 degrees Celsius by 2100 by significantly reducing the world’s carbon-dioxide emissions. To meet the carbon-dioxide emissions targets, the United States would have to significantly cut back its use of traditional energy resources, including oil and natural gas, hurting the economies of many Midwestern and Western states.
Under the Paris accord, families in the Plains states would not be able to benefit from the low-cost and abundant energy resources available in the region and would instead be forced to pay thousands of dollars in additional costs related to higher-priced renewable-energy sources.
Their tax dollars would also go toward giveaways to the United Nations’ Green Climate Fund to help faraway countries reduce their carbon-dioxide emissions — all in pursuit of a goal that can’t be achieved because countries such as China and India will continue to substantially grow their own emissions, offsetting any alleged progress made by the United States and European nations. Further, all this assumes that humans are the chief drivers of climate change and that humans can control global climate a century into the future.
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The Trump administration has started to roll back redundant and costly regulations on the energy sector, but as Trump said in his announcement, staying in the agreement would pose serious obstacles to unlocking the restrictions of unnecessary regulations. Environmental groups already have challenged some of the regulatory reforms pushed by the Trump administration and Congress using the Paris accord, the UNFCCC and other initiatives as the legal basis for these court challenges.
In addition to the energy-related problems created by the Paris climate accord, there are numerous other ways in which it would create problems for people in the Plains states. For instance, the Paris agreement would cause substantial problems for many cattle ranchers and others in the agricultural industry.
In November 2015, John Sutter wrote an article for CNN titled “Why Beef Is the New SUV.” He stated that reducing beef consumption is vital if the United States is going to play its part in limiting the increasing global temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius as originally set out in the 1992 UNFCCC. According to Sutter and others who believe in the theory that humans are causing global warming, methane produced by cattle and other animals is contributing substantially to climate change and thus needs to be eliminated.
Of course, to “decarbonize” what we eat, the price of beef — as well as other “bad” foods — must necessarily skyrocket, and the industries linked to these foods, many of which operate throughout the Plains states, will need to scale back their operations and endure numerous new regulations and government requirements.
The Plains states will benefit greatly from the president’s decision to leave the Paris agreement, including fewer burdensome regulations, more choices for consumers, lower energy and food prices, additional jobs and greater economic freedom. But despite these successes, people in the Plains states concerned about greater economic growth must remain vigilant.
It is vital to let your elected representatives know that any effort to impose unnecessary costs and regulations on our economy in the name of a religious-like devotion to trying to stop a couple of degrees of temperature increase more than 80 years into the future is not acceptable.
Bette Grande is a research fellow at The Heartland Institute. She represented the 41st District in the North Dakota Legislature from 1996 to 2014.