Just a few days ago we reported on the significant economic benefits the world will gain from the completion of the Paris Climate Agreement. The Agreement, decided upon in 2015 and gradually signed and put into effect over the course of the last year, is a really big deal. It could have been better, with more firm goals and specific milestones, but it’s a first in that it has been signed by 192 countries representing 99.21% of global CO2 emissions, pledging to keep global warming “well below 2ºC.” The signatories to the Agreement include, most importantly, the world’s three largest emitters: the US, China, and India.
But yesterday on “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos, EPA-chief-and-oil-industry-talking-point-spouting-robot Scott Pruitt claimed that the Paris Agreement is a “bad deal” and that “China and India, the largest producers of [carbon dioxide] internationally, got away scot-free.”
The problem with that last statement is that, like much of what Pruitt says, it is demonstrably false. And the person whose job it is to administer and implement these agreements ought to know it.
Not only have both India and China ratified the Paris Climate Agreement, which means they have agreed to do everything in their power to limit global warming to the same “well below 2ºC” target that all ratifiers have agreed to, but China and India both have much lower emissions per capita than the US. India, despite having four times the population of the US, emits less than half as much carbon as the US does in total – which means each Indian resident has roughly 1/8th the carbon footprint of an American resident. China’s total emissions are higher than the US, but that’s because they have more than four times the population of the US – their per capita emissions are less than half of America’s.
He could perhaps claim to be technically correct about China’s total emissions, but this is disingenuous at best. Regardless, he is completely wrong about India’s emissions – and wrong that either of those countries got any better or worse of a “deal” than the US did in the Agreement.
It’s not a mistake that Pruitt would get this one wrong. The issue here is that he seems to be stuck in an old programmed loop of talking points, telling the same stale stories which were never quite true and are even glaringly less true now than ever. For a long time, the reason climate agreements would fall through is that the American fossil fuel industry (who have given Pruitt $270,000 in campaign funds over his lifetime) would complain that the US shouldn’t have to reduce their emissions if China didn’t agree to do so also – even though China is in a different stage of industrial development, has always emitted far less carbon per capita than the US, and has been actively working to peak their carbon emissions since even before the Paris Agreement was signed.
But those complaints obviously do not apply any more, because on several occasions in the last year of Obama’s presidency, he appeared alongside Chinese President Xi Jinping – including once just two months before the election – to announce that the US and China were jointly signing the Paris Agreement. The countries would bind themselves to the same global target as everyone else, the same rules as everyone else – to limit global warming to “well below 2ºC.” A joint statement to this effect was also posted on the White House website and Scott Pruitt’s EPA website still includes a section about US-China collaboration on addressing climate change.
So clearly Pruitt’s programmed complaint is outdated. Plus, these complaints miss the point that the world economy, including the US, stands to benefit to the tune of $19 trillion as mentioned earlier in this article. And then there are the myriad other benefits of cutting emissions. For example, reducing the 7 million deaths per year worldwide due to air pollution; and reduction of what the Department of Defense, including current Defense Secretary James “Maddog” Mattis, calls the “threat multiplier” of climate change – a term that refers to how climate change will destabilize the world politically and lead to more global conflict.
This is just another instance of Pruitt being openly hostile towards the job he has been given. It is plainly clear that he is either ignorant of very important aspects of his job or he is intentionally lying to the public he is meant to protect. There is absolutely no reason that this person should continue to occupy the seat of EPA administrator.
We can only hope that his ignorance might limit his ability to exercise his planned hostile actions against the health and well-being of the American people. Or, more likely, that other entities, like California or France will be able mitigate the damage he will try to do as “protector” of the environment.