Letter to the Editor

Reader criticizes New York state attorney general’s support of Paris Climate Agreement

New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and the other 13 other attorneys general who signed an open letter imploring President Donald Trump to stay in the Paris Agreement are mistaken to believe that the treaty “has the potential to achieve a reversal of our current trajectory,” to quote from their letter.

Besides its nonsensical objective of limiting “Earth’s temperature” rise as if we had a global thermostat, the agreement lets developing countries largely off the hook. This despite the fact that non- Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries are now the greatest source of energy related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

For example, while the United States agreed to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (82 percent of which is CO2) by 26 to 28 percent below its 2005 level by 2025, China committed to stop increasing its CO2 emissions by 2030. Hanna Fekete, a founding partner of the Germany-based NewClimate Institute, explained, “Taking into account implemented policies, along with expected economic growth and other factors, China’s GHG emissions in 2025 will be 70 percent above 2005 levels. This is putting them on track to overachieving their Paris Agreement target.”

And it will not be necessary for developing nations to meet their Paris emission goals anyway. They have an out-clause, one not applicable to developed countries.

Article 4 in the 1992 U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the treaty underlying Paris, states:

“Economic and social development and poverty eradication are the first and overriding priorities of the developing country Parties.”

Actions that significantly reduce CO2 emissions would usually entail dramatically cutting back on the use of coal — the source of most of the developing world’s electricity. As coal is generally the least expensive source of power, reducing CO2 output by restricting coal use would undoubtedly interfere with development priorities.

So, developing countries almost certainly won’t do it, citing Article 4 of the UNFCCC as their excuse. America’s sacrifice will be for nothing.


Tom Harris, B. Eng., M. Eng. (Mech.)

Executive Director

International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC)

Ottawa, Ontario


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