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The “Overheated” Costs of Climate Change

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The “Overheated” Costs of Climate Change

Cass discusses climate catastrophism, the Paris Accord, and how obsessions with apocalyptic scenarios have unmoored climate policy from reasoned debate. March 19, 2018

Oren Cass joins John Stossel to talk about the Paris Agreement and how climate “catastrophists” are harming the debate over on how to adapt to the changing global climate.

For years, activists have branded any critics of the Left’s environmental policies “climate deniers.” Cass argues that climate activists have drawn drastic policy implications unwarranted by current climate science. 

A serious policy discussion should focus on the unresolved question of how dramatic climate change’s economic and social effects will be. But according to Cass, the Left’s obsession with apocalyptic scenarios has unmoored climate policy from reasoned debate. In his 2015 State of the Union address, President Obama reinforced this tendency, declaring climate change a “potential existential threat.”

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In a groundbreaking Manhattan Institute report, Cass delivers a useful corrective to the widely held view that climate change will invariably wreck our societies. He also describes his research in a Wall Street Journal article.

Read John Stossel’s FoxNews.com column on this topic, published March 21, 2018.

This video is part of a special collaboration with John Stossel and City Journal contributors.  

Video Transcript

John Stossel: Another hot year. Global warming! What will we do about that? Politicians for most every country promised to deal with it by signing something called the Paris Climate Agreement. But when President Trump took office he said,

President Trump: "The United States will withdraw."

Stossel: What? We will withdraw? We, alone?

Al Gore: President Trump isolated the United States with his reckless and indefensible decision.

Stossel: My neighbors in New York agree with that, and so do most of the media.

Wolf Blitzer: A lot at stake, potentially for the planet.

Stossel: Really? I bet they don't even know what was in the agreement. I didn't.

Oren Cass: Paris Accord was somewhere between a farce and a fraud.

Stossel: Manhattan Institute senior fellow Oren Cass is one of the few people who've actually read the Paris Agreement and also the commitment set in by every country.

Cass: You don't even have to mention greenhouse gases in your commitment if you don't want to. You send you in any piece of paper you want, we're gonna staple them all together, and we're gonna call that the Paris Accord. Everyone sent in a piece of paper and they stapled it together and held it up and said this is amazing.

Tung Chee-hwa: China has made a major commitment.

Stossel: So what's in the commitments that every country made?

News anchor: India has ratified the Paris Climate Accord, committing the world's fastest growing economy to limit carbon dioxide emissions.

Cass: What you find is they either pledge to do exactly what they were already going to do anyway, or pledged even less than that. China for instance, said we pledged to reach peak emissions by about 2030. Well the United States government had already done a study to guess when Chinese emissions would peak and their guess was about 2030.

Stossel: Peak doesn't mean stop, it just means stop increasing.

Cass: That's right. So in fact China promised they will continue increasing their emissions for some time to come. And yet, China was actually one of the better pledges. India made no pledge to limit their emissions at all, they pledged only to become more efficient. But they proposed to become efficient less quickly than they're already becoming more efficient.

So their pledge was to slow down. You know, my favorite was Pakistan whose pledge was to reach a peak at some point, after which to begin reducing emissions, and so you can staple those together, and you can say we now have a global agreement.

But what you have is an agreement to do nothing. And if anything you've gone backwards because whereas in the past you could have criticized countries and said hey, why aren't you doing anything? Now we have an agreement that says in fact, we will applaud you for doing nothing.

President Obama: We came together around the strong agreement the world needed.

Cass: Obviously President Obama got a lot of political mileage out of that, but the climate didn't get much at all. The one country that showed up in Paris with a very costly, ambitious target was the United States. So President Obama took all the zero commitments from everybody else, but threw in a really expensive one for us.

Stossel: Super expensive! Obama pledged to reduce American emissions by a quarter. Of course it's true that the United States produces twice as much greenhouse gas per person as China and India, so isn't it on us to do more?

Cass: Even if we zeroed out our emissions tomorrow and the future of climate change is still a question of what happens in China and India.

Trump: We're getting out.

Stossel: When Trump said he was leaving the Paris Accord, he was trashed by politicians across the world.

UK Prime Minister May: I'm dismayed at the U.S. decision to pull out of the Paris Agreement

Stossel: President Obama said, "This administration joins a handful of nations that reject the future."

Cass: If the future is worthless climate agreements that everyone goes to Paris to talk about, then first of all that's a very sad future, and it's one that we should be proud to reject.

Stossel: The earth is warming. Man may well be increasing that. But the solution isn't to waste billions by forcing emissions cuts here while other countries do nothing while pretending to make cuts.

Trump was right to repudiate this phony treaty. Most of us didn't even know how phony it was. But now, we do.

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