Close this search box.

CEI press release: The Legal and Economic Case Against the Paris Climate Treaty

Washington, May 3, 2017 – Today the Competitive Enterprise Institute released “The Legal and Economic Case Against the Paris Climate Treaty,” a new report outlining why President Donald Trump should withdraw the United States from the agreement.
According to the report’s authors, CEI’s Chris Horner and Marlo Lewis, the Paris Climate Agreement is a costly and ineffectual solution to the alleged climate crisis, and quite plainly, a treaty. Worse, the Agreement’s mid-century emission reduction target can’t be met without putting energy-poor countries on an energy diet. 
“Failure to withdraw from the Paris Climate Treaty would entrench a constitutionally damaging precedent, set President Trump’s domestic and foreign policies in conflict, and ensure many years of diplomatic blowback, imperiling America’s capacity for self-government,” said CEI senior fellow Marlo Lewis. “The agreement makes our country beholden to the demands of foreign leaders, U.N. bureaucrats, and international pressure groups, disallowing American consumers from determining our own energy needs and wants—including at what price.”
According to the report, in addition to being detrimental to America’s political and economic interests, the Paris Climate Treaty pursues an anti-energy agenda throughout the developing world that is both unjust and dangerous. The agreement, producing no detectable climate benefits, diverts trillions of dollars from productive investments that would enhance global welfare to feeding political ambitions.
New arguments from the U.S. State Department to remain in the Paris Climate Treaty are misguided, contrary to the language in the Paris Climate Agreement, and ignore serious legal consequences, says author CEI Senior Fellow Chris Horner. Horner responds to these arguments:
“The argument that we can simply renegotiate the Paris Climate Treaty is false; that’s not an option under the deal. The agreement’s language in Article 4 is clear and deliberate. According to this treaty, any revision must be more stringent—we cannot revise downward, and we are required to make it worse, every five years, forever. This is a truly terrible deal for U.S. consumers and the economy.
The Paris treaty is “politically binding,” like prior climate treaties, but carries huge potential legal consequences, and the State Department is misleading the White House by ignoring these risks. If President Trump stays in this treaty and follows through in his energy agenda, every climate-activist state attorney general, environmental group, and the entire climate industry will surely litigate on the basis of the Paris treaty.”
“The least we can do is give the U.S. Senate a vote. Other countries which signed this pact, submitted it for a vote: Spain, Germany, Japan, Australia, Canada, Mexico, and even France’s Senate and the European Parliament got a vote. Surely, the United States is as democratic as these other countries… or are we?”
To read the executive summary of “The Legal and Economic Case Against the Paris Climate Treaty,” please click here.
To read the paper in its entirety, please click here.
Transcript of President Trump’s speech in Harrisburg regarding the Paris Climate Treaty:
Our government rushed to join international agreements where the United States pays the costs and bears the burdens, while other countries get the benefit and pay nothing.  
THE PRESIDENT:  This includes deals like the one-sided Paris Climate Accord, where the United States pays billions of dollars while China, Russia and India have contributed and will contribute nothing.  
THE PRESIDENT:  Does that remind you of the Iran deal?  How about that beauty, right?
On top of all of that, it’s estimated that full compliance with the agreement could ultimately shrink America’s GDP by $2.5 trillion over a 10-year period.  That means factories and plants closing all over our country.  Here we go again.  Not with me, folks.  (Applause.)
Those are the facts, whether we like them or not.  The dishonest media won’t print them, won’t report them, because the Washington media is part of the problem:  their priorities are not my priorities and they’re not your priorities, believe me.  (Applause.)  Their agenda is not your agenda.  And I’ll be making a big decision on the Paris accord over the next two weeks.  (Applause.)  And we will see what happens.  
But they’re all part of a broken system that is profited from this global theft and plunder of American wealth at the expense of the American worker.  We are not going to let other countries take advantage of us anymore.   Because, from now on, it’s going to be America first.  (Applause.) 
WSJ editorial: Springtime Out of Paris
Staying in Obama’s climate accord risks Trump’s energy plans.
President Trump and his advisers are debating whether to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accords, and the issue is coming to a head. If he doesn’t want to topple his own economic agenda, Mr. Trump’s wisest course is to walk away from a pact that President Obama never put before the U.S. Senate.
Mr. Trump wants to revive growth and lift wages (see above), and a large part of that project is a bet on liberating U.S. energy production, notably natural gas and oil. Toward this end Mr. Trump issued an executive order in late March asking the Environmental Protection Agency to unwind Mr. Obama’s Clean Power Plan.
The Obama team finalized CPP in late 2015, and the rule was immediately challenged in court by 28 states. Notable among the Obama Administration’s legal defenses is that CPP is essential to fulfill the U.S. commitments to reduce carbon emissions under Paris. By the end the White House cited Paris as the legal justification for all its climate policies.
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is moving to repeal CPP and other Obama climate rules. Environmental groups will inevitably sue. If the U.S. remains in Paris, Mr. Pruitt will have to explain to the many Obama appointees on the federal bench that gutting CPP is a reasonable exercise of administrative power in light of the Administration’s continued fealty to Paris carbon reductions. This is the sort of logical inconsistency that a creative judge might seize on to justify blocking Mr. Trump’s EPA rules. By staying in Paris Mr. Trump may hand opponents a sword to kill his agenda.
The left is also pointing to Section 115 of the Clean Air Act, which gives EPA a mandate to regulate emissions that “may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare in a foreign country.” The catch is that EPA can only act if there is regulatory “reciprocity” among the nations involved. Such as the Paris accords.
Mr. Obama knew he was setting these carbon political traps as he rushed to commit the U.S. to Paris. His bet was that even a future GOP President would be reluctant to endure the international criticism that would follow withdrawal. And sure enough, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Economic Council director Gary Cohn are making precisely this argument for staying in Paris.
Then again, Candidate Trump promised to withdraw, and he can’t possibly be vilified for Paris more than he already has for everything else. His advisers have presented a way to short-circuit the supposed four-year process for withdrawing, which involves U.S. resignation from the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.
This isn’t a question of science or diplomacy. For Mr. Trump, the question is whether he wants to put his economic agenda at the mercy of anticarbon warriors and federal judges.
Appeared in the Apr. 27, 2017, print edition.
These two letters to the editor were published in the 27th April WSJ:
Regarding your editorial “Highway From the Endangerment Zone” (April 19): Many compelling reasons exist for revisiting the EPA’s endangerment finding for greenhouse gases.
Based on email obtained through the Freedom of Information Act and other evidence, the Obama EPA may have improperly predetermined the outcome of the “endangerment finding” (EF) rule-making. This evidence reveals a disturbing practice of EPA staff working covertly with green activist groups to shape major climate regulatory efforts.
The EF was issued in the wake of the November 2009 Climategate revelations. Climategate validated suspicions that climate scientists manipulated science, worked to cover up their high jinks and tried to silence critics. Although the EF (as well as the climate hysteria amid which Massachusetts v. EPA (2007) was decided) relied in great part on the controversial science giving rise to Climategate, the EPA refused to reopen the public comment period for the EF to explore its ramifications.
The EF is also scientifically suspect. It ignored the global-warming pause for starters. According to NASA satellite data (the most reliable temperature data), 2016 wasn’t warmer than 1998, despite there being 10% more carbon dioxide and 4.5% more methane (reputed to have 20 times the warming potential of carbon dioxide) in the atmosphere. We’ve also experienced a hurricane drought, fewer tornadoes and declines in other extreme weather events and disasters despite the aforementioned significant increases in atmospheric greenhouse gas levels.
The EF also relies on non-EPA scientific assessments that don’t meet the standards of the Information Quality Act.
Steve Milloy
Potomac, Md.
The Journal is asking the wrong question. It is not about eliminating the endangerment finding, it is about updating and possibly modifying it after almost a decade of new science and observations. The EF wasn’t a full scientific finding made by the EPA but an adoption of findings of other government agencies and the political summary conclusions of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (versus the underlying science of the IPCC). That the finding rather than being based on welfare was also based on an imminent risk to health and was a very controversial one is reflected by the fact that every single affected agency and department in the U.S. government—save the EPA—strongly opposed the EF The review should be conducted as an evidentiary-type hearing process, with an A-Team that believes updated science supports modification and a B-Team arguing against, with the merits of various scientific assumptions, finding and reports thoroughly examined.
What has changed in eight years? It is confirmed that large swings in temperatures over centuries aren’t unusual. There has been no statistically significant change in atmospheric warming in 18 years, despite fiddling by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration with temperature records. Computer models don’t agree with observed temperatures. There is a significant divergence between historic observations and model projections, entirely undermining the validity of the computer models.
We have strong evidence climate change is far less sensitive to CO 2 than first assumed. Observed science shows no statistically significant changes in droughts, flooding, hurricanes or rise in sea levels.
The goal of a review should not be to eliminate the EF but rather to check its early assumptions. Any adjustment in the EF could then be reflected in changes in policy.
Hilary Sills