Paris climate agreement was a bad economic deal
© Getty Images

President Trump recently made good on a campaign promise to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement. I support his decision. The president’s action simply puts America’s economy first. The president recognizes the importance of protecting the environment, but in a responsible way. 

The Paris agreement, committed to by the previous administration without Senate approval, set unreasonably harsh regulatory requirements at the expense of the American economy. Had the U.S. remained in the agreement, the outcome would have been shocking. Numerous studies have found that the burden of complying fell primarily on the American people with results ranging from job losses to increased electricity prices.  In fact, some studies determined that the deal would have cost Americans nine million jobs and three trillion dollars.

ADVERTISEMENT

These tremendous costs would have resulted in only a negligible benefit to the environment. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology calculated that if all 195 countries abided by the Paris agreement it would have reduced global warming only 0.16 degree Celsius by 2100! Furthermore, President Obama’s signature domestic climate policy, the Clean Power Plan, would have lowered temperatures just 0.03 degrees Celsius and would have prevented sea level rise by only the thickness of three sheets of paper.  This is the definition of all pain and no gain.

China and India, countries responsible for the greatest amount of carbon dioxide emissions, were exempt from taking action until 2030. These countries would continue to increase carbon emissions while the U.S. would bear the burden of compliance with the agreement. If this global agreement was fairly negotiated on behalf of the U.S., why were some countries allowed to delay their compliance for years? President Trump’s assessment is correct – this agreement was a “bad deal.” The U.S. would have to impose huge burdens on its residents while other countries would not.

Climate is changing and humans have an impact. We should focus on future generations and the planet we leave for them but it is equally important to consider the quality of life of those living right now. The Paris agreement would stifle the U.S. economy and slow innovation. It would have forced America to comply with costly environmental regulations that have no significant benefit. Instead, we should focus on what our great nation does best – technological innovation.

What will make an impact on the environment are the same initiatives that will secure America’s economy: private sector research and innovation. To overcome the inevitable challenges of an ever-changing world, we need to encourage technological advancements rather than subject Americans to more regulations, higher taxes and excessive government control. 

Technology has solved every major problem that the U.S. has faced – from transportation to communication to healthcare. Climate change should be no different. If we let innovation lead the way, the U.S. will discover the technologies needed to effectively combat climate change. 

We have already reaped the benefits of this technological innovation. Total U.S. carbon emissions have decreased by 10 percent over the last decade even as other countries have increased their emissions. This result wasn’t due to federal regulations. On the contrary, it had no connection to President Obama’s climate policies. Imagine the possibilities when the private sector is free to innovate without regulatory red tape holding it back.

By boosting energy innovation, Americans can benefit from lower energy costs and still address environmental concerns.  Already, advancements in technology, such as hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, have enabled the U.S. to harness natural resources, reduce the cost of energy, and provide thousands of jobs. The American energy revolution is sadly under-reported while climate alarmism is readily promoted.

We must continue to make strides in innovation. Technology will solve environmental challenges. And America will set an example for the rest of the world of how to reduce carbon emissions without job-killing regulations and government mandates.

Smith is chairman of the House Science Committee.


The views expressed by this author are their own and are not the views of The Hill.