Pundits have been arguing about the pros and cons of the Paris climate agreement since its inception in 2015.
That argument grew even stronger in June 2017 when President Donald Trump announced that the United States would be withdrawing from the accord by 2020.
The president’s based his decision on statistics from the National Economic Research Associates (NERA), which he claimed showed the accord would harm the American economy and reduce jobs. Interestingly enough, just several days after the president’s speech, NERA released a statement of facts saying some of the figures cited by President Trump were taken out of context.
More than six months later, the Paris agreement pros and cons argument is stronger than ever. So, the question remains – did the president make the right decision?
What is the Paris Climate Agreement All About
Before getting into a debate about the pros and cons of the Paris climate agreement, it’s important to understand what the accord really does.
The Paris climate agreement is an initiative run by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to help reduce global warming. The goal is to keep the Earth’s temperature from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius by curbing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions allowed by each participating nation.
It may seem like a beneficial program, but the main arguments against the initiative center around the way the accord was administered and its potential economic impacts. Here are four pros and cons of the Paris climate agreement.
1. Pro: The Paris Agreement Has Almost Global Support
The Paris agreement is proof that climate change has become a priority for the majority of the world.
Nearly 200 nations have signed the agreement, signaling a world-wide commitment and investment into more renewable energy. This strength in numbers also signals a recognition of the importance that nature plays in climate control and could lead to more conservation efforts.
2. Pro: The Paris Agreement Will Help Control Global Warming
It may not seem like a lot, but 2 degrees Celsius would have a major impact on the global environment.
The temperature increase would decrease water supplies and crop levels. In addition, melting ice would raise sea levels, flooding coastal communities and destroying thousands, if not millions of homes. By committing to reduce greenhouse gases, the Paris agreement is aimed at preventing these ecosystem disruptions.
3. Con: The Paris Agreement Has Different Rules for Different Countries
One of the main criticisms President Trump had about the Paris climate agreement is that he said it was unfair to the United States. He appears to be correct.
According to EPA chief Scott Pruitt, China and India signed the agreement without being forced to reduce their greenhouse emissions. Under the guidelines of the program, each nation can independently decide how to reduce emissions. Other aspects of the accord are non-binding, so there’s really no way to ensure they are enforced.
4. Con (and Pro): The Paris Agreement Will Impact American Jobs
Say what you will about the figures President Trump used to justify the United States’ exit from the Paris climate agreement. But the president is partially correct. Forcing the U.S. to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, the Paris agreement might cost some Americans their jobs.
However, those jobs lost in the coal and gas industries would likely be replaced by new positions as the country expands its reliance on renewable energy. Jobs in the solar industry have increased tenfold in the past decade, and the global market for wind and solar fuels is expected to reach $6 trillion by 2030.
What Do the Pros and Cons of the Paris Climate Agreement Mean for the Future
There are still more than two years before the United States is officially out of the Paris climate agreement.
That deadline comes around the same time as the November 2020 election. Should President Trump be defeated by a Democratic or third-party challenger, the climate policies put in place by President Obama may be reinstated. If this happens, it would not be a surprise to see the United States rejoin the Paris climate agreement.
If President Trump is re-elected, it’s likely the United States will stay out of the accord through the end of his second term. However, it’s not out of the question for the United States to reenter the accord. The president recently said he supports measures to protect the economy, and the country could conceivably rejoin the Paris climate agreement if it’s amended to be more fair for the U.S.
Regardless of what happens leading up to 2020 and beyond, the arguments over the Paris agreement pros and cons likely won’t be ending any time soon.