Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Two GOP Governors Support Paris Agreement, But President Trump Shouldn't Be Impressed

Two Republican governors last week urged Energy Secretary Rick Perry to “maintain the [U.S.] commitment to the Paris Agreement.” In a joint letter to Perry dated 17th May, Gov. Philip Scott of Vermont and Gov. Charles Baker of Massachusetts pledge they will “continue to do our share” to reach President Obama’s goal of reducing U.S. emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. The Governors decry the “impacts of rising sea levels, increasingly severe flooding, heat waves, droughts, and decline in snow cover,” so maybe they believe their efforts to implement Obama’s NDC will protect their states from such impacts. If so, they are mistaken. Even if all nations fulfill every promise in their NDCs by 2030, which is unlikely, “the total temperature reduction will be 0.048°C (0.086°F) by 2100,” according to a peer-reviewed study by environmental researcher Bjorn Lomborg. That change is less than the current margin of error (0.08°C) in estimates of annual average global temperature. The cooling influence of all combined Paris Agreement NDCs during the policy-relevant future would be smaller still. Clearly, implementing Obama’s NDC nationwide would make no measurable or practical difference in snow cover and the like over the next quarter century. The contributions of Vermont and Massachusetts would be even less consequential. Besides, contrary to what the governors suggest, there is as yet no clear evidence of accelerating sea level rise since 1993; U.S. heat-related mortality has declined, decade by decade, since the 1960s; U.S. floods have not increased in frequency or intensity since 1950; and U.S. flood damage as a percentage of GDP has declined by about 75 percent since 1940....more

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