David A. Andelman at CNN published a piece with a great title:
Surely, this article will tell me why leaving the agreement is bad, right?
Here’s a list of the consequences:
Let’s start with boycotts of goods from America produced in climate-denying factories, even tariffs against all such products; denials of American companies seeking to acquire or partner with foreign firms in virtually every industry.
. . .
None of this is likely to happen immediately. Seas will not begin to rise uncontrollably. We can manage our sharply increased intensity of dramatic weather events. We can even — as millions of Chinese must do — breathe through masks when pollution become heavy enough to cut.
. . .
Still, in the wake of the Trump decision, the United States risks being labeled “America the Ugly,”
. . .
The question now is . . . How can any nation ever trust America again? If America’s elected President has such profound powers to wreak havoc on the world in this fashion all but unilaterally and with a stroke of a pen or a poorly worded tweet, how can any nation take our word on any international agreement we might sign?
So, the list is:
- In the distant future seas will rise uncontrollably
- Increased dramatic weather events
- “America the Ugly” sobriquet
- No nation can trust America, again
As an aside, don’t you love how these articles never quote the actual agreement?
For number 1, maybe, maybe not. It seems like a bit of a stretch within the global economy.
I’ll come back to 2 and 3.
For number 4, who cares?
For number 5, maybe ask the Amerindians just how trustworthy the United States government was.
Now, on to number 2 and 3. I will assume climate change is real, caused by humans, and it leads to increased extreme weather events (which is still not attributable). What does the US being in the Paris Agreement do to stem the change? Very little, at best, nothing at worst.
Within the 90% probability model, with the INDCs in place we might shave off .7 °C by 2100 (source). But, the teeth of the agreement are just naming and shaming and it continues to be based in the same tried and failed methods in policy (source). Indeed, to quote one scientist:
Continued US membership in the Paris Agreement on climate would be symbolic and have no effect on US emissions. Instead, it would reveal the weaknesses of the agreement, prevent new opportunities from emerging, and gift greater leverage to a recalcitrant administration. – Luke Kemp
(paywalled; search for it to find more text)
So, I guess that answers the question. It’s bad because President Trump did it.