The United States is formally pulling out of the Paris climate agreement just three years after Donald Trump announced that he had plans to do so. Trump said the multinational agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change would be an economic disaster, costing as many as 2.7 million American jobs by 2025.
Jason Bordoff, director of Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy said, “Looking at the cost of climate action really is only one side of the coin, and it ignores the cost of inaction.”
Every day we are paying the cost because of wildfires in California, hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, and floods in the Midwest.
He said, “The impacts of climate change are not just on polar bears 50 years from now.” He added, “They are on all of us, and our economy, and our agriculture and more today.”
As climate change increases, Frances Moore, assistant professor of environmental science and policy at the University of California, Davis, said the U.S. gave up its seat at the table when it dropped out of the Paris Agreement.
Moore said, “We’re affected by greenhouse gas emissions from other countries, right? We have a really large domestic interest in working with other countries to reduce those emissions.”
Correcting climate change and adapting to it requires cross-border cooperation, even though most cost will be local. Economists like Harvard University professor Robert Stavins calls it a global commons problem.
He said, “Any individual jurisdiction taking action, whether it’s a country the size of the United States or it’s just a state, such as California, they incur the cost of taking action, but the benefits of those actions they’ve taken are spread globally.”
And the benefits are also spread across industries.
Elliot Diringer, executive vice president of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions said, “The world’s leading economic players recognize the grave economic risks of not addressing climate change.” He added, “And increasingly, they’re recognizing the significant economic opportunities in a clean energy transition.”
With the U.S. withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, they’re ignoring those risks, missing out on economic opportunities and setting a bad example for the rest of the world, he said.
Leah Stokes, co-host of the climate change podcast, “A Matter of Degrees” said, “The thing about any international agreement is that we don’t have a global government. There isn’t some enforcer that can say ‘Thou shalt cut emissions.” She said, “We fundamentally have to rely on a kind of bottom-up approach where countries have to make pledges and that they have to make progress on their own terms based on their own domestic politics and sometimes those domestic politics get in the way.”