As Democrats and environmentalists freak out over the president’s withdrawal from the Paris Accords, they forget that this same argument played out over a decade ago.
Following the left’s meltdown over President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Accord, the discussion surrounding the saga echoes the same talking points surrounding the debate over the Kyoto Protocol in the early 2000s.
At the beginning of the Bush administration, President Bush pulled the United States out of the Kyoto Protocol for reasons similar to President Trump’s. Predictably, the world and the American left protested over the president’s decision to pursue U.S. economic growth.
Here are the top 3 similarities between the two deals:
China and India Got Great Deals
The Kyoto Protocol, negotiated in the 1990s, exempted China and India from their requirements. This was one of the main reasons the Bush administration cited for its withdrawal, according to The New York Times: “Mr. Bush said, with Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell at his side. ‘’Yet China was entirely exempted from the requirements of the Kyoto protocol. India and Germany are among the top emitters. Yet India was also exempt from Kyoto.’”
A congressional report found that participation from the Chinese and Indians in the Paris Accords was largely symbolic, calling it “political theater.” The Paris Accords would have imposed uneven and unfair economic restrictions on the west, compared with China. “China stands to gain from participation in the Paris Agreement by pushing the U.S. and EU to make economically costly emissions reductions,” Further, the report found that the Accords would make no meaningful impact on the carbon emissions of China and India, the world’s two most populous countries.
The International Community Criticized the U.S. for Leaving Both Treaties
When President Bush pulled the United States out of the Kyoto Protocol, the international community reacted swiftly and harshly. Italy’s Environment Minister Willer Bordon called the withdrawal “extremely grave.” The European Union’s Environment Commissioner at the time, Margot Wallstroem, discussed economic measures the global community could take to punish the United States for the withdrawal.
Similarly, world leaders attacked Trump after his decision to pull the United States out of the Paris Accords. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that he was “disappointed” in the president’s decision. “The president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, had harsher words to share on Wednesday, informing members at a student conference that ‘Europe’s duty is to say … The Americans can’t just leave the climate protection agreement. Mr. Trump believes that because he doesn’t know the details,'” according to The Atlantic.
But the International Community Didn’t Live Up to Its Kyoto Standards
“Under the Kyoto protocol most developed nations – including Canada, Australia, Austria, Spain, Japan and others – never got close to reaching their individual target for cutting or slowing their emissions,” The Guardian reported in 2012.
The congressional report on the Paris Accords wrote: “Kyoto was legally binding and countries still failed to comply. Non-binding targets in the Paris Agreement will not produce any greater confidence that countries will comply.”
Despite the international community’s moral posturing on the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Accords, they failed to live up to emissions standards in an agreement that had included enforcement standards. How could the Paris Accords, a non-binding agreement, guarantee greater conformity?
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