Editor’s Note: Ted Cruz represents Texas in the United States Senate. The views expressed in this commentary are his own.
Ted Cruz: President Trump should fulfill his campaign promise and withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change
The treaty drives up energy prices, devastates our industrial base and bolsters our rivals, writes Cruz
Following a successful international tour and the G-7 Summit in Italy, President Trump has an opportunity to relieve our nation of the unfair and economically devastating requirements of the Paris Agreement, the United Nations climate treaty he pledged to rip up during the campaign.
And as soon as possible, President Trump should act on – and keep – his campaign promise.
The agreement, signed by the Obama administration last year, would commit the United States to drastically reducing its carbon emissions while allowing some countries to increase theirs. This, all while doing nothing to meaningfully decrease global temperatures.
According to a recent National Economic Research Associates Economic Consulting study, the Paris Agreement could obliterate $3 trillion of GDP, 6.5 million industrial sector jobs and $7,000 in per capita household income from the American economy by 2040. Meeting the 2025 emissions reduction target alone could subtract $250 billion from our GDP and eliminate 2.7 million jobs. The cement, iron and steel, and petroleum refining industries could see their production cut by 21% 19%, and 11% respectively.
Not only would these unfair standards reduce American job growth and wages and increase monthly utility costs for hardworking families, they would fundamentally disadvantage the United States in the global economy. The result: our economic output would lag while other countries continued to expand their GDPs.
The agreement’s proponents market it as a panacea for addressing the impacts of climate change, but at its core, it is about increasing government control – over the economy, the energy sector and nearly every aspect of our daily lives. It represents the exact misguided, top-down, government-knows-best approach that American voters resoundingly rejected in 2016.
We cannot pursue a path that puts American workers first if we cripple a fossil fuel energy sector that generates 82% of the energy consumed in the United States. The coal industry alone supplies almost one-third of America’s electric power – with an increasing amount of clean coal-burning technology becoming available.
America is poised to become a net energy exporter over the next decade. We should not abandon that progress at the cost of weakening our energy renaissance and crippling economic growth.
And let’s not forget the massive utility cost increases the agreement would entail. The Clean Power Plan, a major component of fulfilling the agreement, would spike energy costs for working and middle-class Texans by 16% by 2030, according to the Economic Reliability Council of Texas, the entity that operates the electric grid for much of our state.
We simply cannot afford an agreement that puts thousands of Americans out of work, increases their energy costs and devastates our core industries.
In return for crippling our economy, the Paris Agreement would do next to nothing to impact global temperatures. Under the EPA’s own models, if all carbon emissions in America were basically eliminated, global temperatures would only decrease by less than two-tenths of a degree Celsius.
While the agreement would have a negligible impact on temperatures, America would be putting itself at a competitive disadvantage. That’s because while the Obama administration irresponsibly committed America to immediate, real cuts in emissions, our global economic competitors would have no such handicap. In fact, Russia is permitted to increase its emissions approximately 50% and China and India have no meaningful cap on emissions until 2030.
This disparity among the countries’ pledges inflicts real losses on our economy now while our rivals continue to grow, industrialize and diversify at their own pace with no implementation costs. In the meantime, the agreement would force American taxpayers to subsidize alternative energy at the expense of clean coal, nuclear power and natural gas – energy resources that actually work for our economy and our environment.
The Paris Agreement would also handicap America in the global race for new sources of energy. Russia has committed financial and military assets to the Arctic to stake its claim to the region’s vast deepwater mineral, oil and gas deposits. China is also exploring and trading for Arctic oil and gas. Meanwhile, American liquefied natural gas struggles with logistical costs that weaken its competitiveness.
By allowing our rivals to increase their cooperation and strategic leverage around the world – pressuring our allies and partners, harming domestic job creators and materially reducing our prestige and influence in the process — the agreement would damage America’s national security as much as our economic security. The emission cuts that the US would have to make today, and the resultant costs for our own energy firms, would weaken our ability to battle our rivals on an equal footing in the drive for untapped energy sources.
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Efforts to unwind some of the deal’s more onerous regulations are welcomed, but that is not enough. Unless the US completely withdraws, the Paris Agreement will continue to cause sustained harm to our security and economy, and it keeps the door open for future administrations to use it as means to impose more costly and ineffective energy regulations.
We should not let a deal subject to the whims of future administrations or Congresses hang like a wet blanket over our economy – driving up energy prices, devastating our industrial base and bolstering our rivals.
I hope President Trump will take the opportunity before him to fulfill the commitment he made and withdraw America from the Paris Agreement.