President Joe Biden brought the United States back into the Paris Climate Agreement as one of his first acts in office. This is part of the new president’s efforts to address climate change by lowering greenhouse gas emissions and adopting new international rules to accomplish the Accord’s goals. But what is the Paris Climate Accord, and what does the deal do?
Paris Climate Accord: A Primer
In November 2015, the Paris Agreement was written in Le Bourget, France, as part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. It was signed by 195 countries in April 2016 and went into effect in November of that year.
Each signatory is required to establish, plan, and report on the contributions it has made to the fight against global warming. There are no enforcement mechanisms in place, but members are encouraged to develop particular emissions targets by a specific date.
The Accord’s ultimate goal is to limit the increase in the global average temperature to below 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (two degrees Celsius). To do this, officials hope to decrease emissions as quickly as possible.
Is It Working?
Developed countries had committed to spending $100 billion per year to the U.N.’s Green Climate Fund by 2020 and sending this level of funding to the climate fund each year until 2025. According to a Heritage Foundation study, following through on the commitments outlined at the beginning of the agreement would lead to enormous costs by 2035.
Analysts forecast that approximately 400,000 jobs would be lost, with about half being in manufacturing. They expect a total gross domestic product loss of more than $2.5 trillion. The conservative group adds:
“To make matters worse, the climate regulations encompassing the U.S. target may not even achieve the desired results and would require additional regulations. And that would just be the beginning. The Paris Agreement requires ever-increasing targets as time goes on, which would further increase the cost of compliance. These efforts would return us to the same costly and ineffective policies that the current administration is unwinding.”
Judging by President Biden’s remarks about how critical the Paris Accord is, one might think signatories must at least be slashing greenhouse gas emissions and reaching full compliance. But they aren’t.
Despite exiting the agreement early on, America’s CO2 emissions have dropped to 30-year lows, and the country has outperformed its major counterparts by vast margins. China, the European Union, and Canada have seen increases in CO2 emissions, and Japan, the U.K., and Mexico have put only small dents on their pollution levels.
The War on Oil?
Could rejoining the Climate Accord, in addition to President Biden’s latest efforts to diminish the strength of the U.S. oil and gas sector, threaten America’s energy independence? In the last couple of years, the United States became a net export nation, no longer relying on foreign oil to fuel the world’s largest economy. One of the contributing factors for accomplishing this, according to industry observers, has been leaving the international pact. The energy sector is on the road to recovery in the aftermath of prices crashing below zero. It could be sometime before oil and gas companies endure the consequences of the agreement and other restrictions.