EAI Calls Out Climate Resolution Supporters

By Rob Roper

Since President Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, a number of local politicians and activists in Vermont have registered their displeasure by pledging fealty to the objectives of the new U.S. Climate Alliance, a coalition of states “committed to meeting the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.”

Governor Scott officially joined Vermont to this coalition stating, “I am proud to join this bipartisan group of governors and reaffirm Vermont’s commitment to fighting climate change through the U.S. Climate Alliance.”

Now several legislators are proposing a formal House Resolution in support of this commitment (See full text below), which will presumably be offered for a vote during the special veto session on June 21-22, 2017.

The Ethan Allen Institute challenges the Governor and the sponsors of this resolution to answer the following questions: Exactly what measures are you proposing to enact that will ensure Vermonters do, in fact, shoulder our share this commitment, and why is it in our interest to do so?

The Paris Agreement committed the United States to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 26% to 28% below 2005 levels by 2025 (less than a decade away). Similarly, Vermont’s Act 168 of 2006 pledged us somehow to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions (principally carbon dioxide) to 25% below 1990 levels by January 1, 2012, 50% below 1990 levels by 2028, and to 75% below by 2050 “if practicable”.

Consider that Vermont — for all our weatherization projects, efficiency mandates, renewable energy subsidies, taxes, and developing our ridgelines with industrial windmills, etc. — failed spectacularly to meet this self-imposed 2012 milestone. According to the state’s report, Vermont’s 1990 GHG emissions amounted to 8.11 million metric tons, 9.03 in 2006, and 8.27 in 2012, nowhere close to the 6.1 million metric ton target. We can conclude, therefore, that meeting our obligations under the Paris Agreement will require significant measures and sacrifices far beyond what we are doing as a state today. What are they?

Additionally, the Paris Agreement created a “Green Climate Fund” that would help poor, developing countries switch from fossil fuels to greener sources of energy and adapt to the effects of climate change. The U.S. pledged $3 billion to that fund (an obligation recognized in the fifth “whereas” of the resolution). Vermont’s share of this would be about $20 million, based on a per capita amount divided amongst Climate Alliance members. Where will the revenue come from to meet this obligation?

If this commitment to meeting the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement is serious, our elected officials who support it should explain exactly what they intend to do to meet those obligations. How will work, how we will measure success, and what it will cost? Vermonters have a right to know. If this is not a serious proposal – if it’s just an empty exercise in “virtue signaling” with no plan or intent to follow through – well, Vermonters have a right to know that too.

Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

 


 

 

References:

 

 

Bipartisan Group of Governors Leading on Climate Change

02 June 2017

 

Montpelier, Vt. – Governor Phil Scott today announced that Vermont will join the U.S. Climate Alliance, a new bipartisan coalition of states committed to meeting the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.

 

“Vermont is a leader in environmental policy and natural resource management. That’s one reason Governor Charlie Baker and I encouraged the Trump Administration to remain committed to the Paris Climate Agreement,” said Gov. Scott. “The President’s decision to withdraw the nation from the agreement only strengthens our commitment and makes the work of states more important. I am proud to join this bipartisan group of governors and reaffirm Vermont’s commitment to fighting climate change through the U.S. Climate Alliance.”

 

Governors Scott and Baker issued a letter to the Trump Administration on May 17 encouraging the President to remain in the Paris Climate Agreement. Since then, Massachusetts and Vermont have been in ongoing communications regarding regional greenhouse gas reduction efforts.

 

Immediately after the President’s announcement on Thursday, Massachusetts and Vermont discussed next steps – including the potential for a multi-state coalition. Conversations with New York, Washington, and Massachusetts specific to the goals of the U.S. Climate Alliance occurred throughout the day on Friday.

 

“Growing our economy and protecting our environment by supporting cleaner and more affordable energy and transportation choices can go together,” Gov. Scott said. “If our national government isn’t willing to lead in this area, the states are prepared to step up. I look forward to supporting continued bipartisan cooperation on these matters and thank Governor Baker, Governor Inslee, Governor Cuomo and Governor Brown for working collaboratively on this important issue.”

 


House resolution strongly opposing the announced U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and recognizing Governor Philip Scott’s enrolling Vermont in the U.S. Climate Alliance

 

Offered by: Representatives Sullivan of Burlington, Deen of Westminster, Botzow of Pownal, Burke of Brattleboro, Cina of Burlington, Colburn of Burlington, Haas of Rochester, Hooper of Montpelier, Lanpher of Vergennes, Masland of Thetford, McCormack of Burlington, Mrowicki of Putney, Rachelson of Burlington, Squirrell of Underhill, Stuart of Brattleboro, Townsend of South Burlington, Webb of Shelburne, Weed of Enosburgh, Yacovone of Morristown, and Yantachka of Charlotte

 

Whereas, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and multiple research studies, “scientific evidence for warming of the climate system is unequivocal,” and that “ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that climate warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities,” and

 

Whereas, according to NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 2016 was the warmest year since modern meteorological record keeping began in 1880, and that 16 of the 17 warmest years on record have occurred since 2001, and

 

Whereas, in December 2015, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change established the Paris Climate Agreement (the Agreement) that was entered into force in October 2016 and that as of June 8, 2017 consists of 148 countries, including the United States, and

 

Whereas, the central purpose of the Agreement is to limit the 21st century air temperature increase to less than two degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels while working to keep the increase to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius, and

 

Whereas, as part of its participation in the Agreement, the United States pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 26–28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025 and to contribute $3 billion to climate change assistance to poorer nations by 2020, and

 

Whereas, on June 1, 2017, President Trump announced that the United States would invoke the Agreement’s withdrawal process, and

 

Whereas, the withdrawal of the United States from the Agreement will create a serious impediment to the international effort to address the planet’s projected increase in temperature, and

 

Whereas, Governor Philip Scott, U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy and Bernard Sanders, and U.S. Representative Peter Welch each strongly criticized the withdrawal decision, and

 

Whereas, Attorney General Thomas J. Donovan is among the state attorneys general who have publicly committed to the implementation of the Agreement, and

 

Whereas, Governors Jay Inslee of Washington State, Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown of California, and Andrew M. Cuomo of New York organized a bipartisan group of governors, known as the U.S. Climate Alliance (the Alliance), committed to the implementation of the Agreement, and other governors, including Governor Philip Scott, have since joined, and

 

Whereas, in 1990, Vermont emitted a total of 8.11 million metric tons of greenhouse gases, and although this amount rose to 9.4 million metric tons in 2004, by 2012 it had dropped to 8.27 metric tons, and

 

Whereas, 10 V.S.A. § 578 establishes a goal for Vermont to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 50 percent below the 1990 level no later than January 1, 2028, and the Comprehensive Energy Plan, as required in accordance with 30 V.S.A. § 202b, establishes a further goal of an 80 to 95 percent reduction by 2050, now therefore be it

 

Resolved by the House of Representatives:

That this legislative body strongly opposes the announced withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and be it further

 

Resolved: That this legislative body recognizes Governor Philip Scott’s enrolling Vermont in the Alliance and urges him to support State funding and policies to enable Vermont’s commitment to the greenhouse gas emissions reduction provisions of the Agreement to be realized, and be it further

 

Resolved: That it is imperative that Vermont uphold its commitment to the newly formed Alliance by reducing the State’s reliance on fossil fuels and by meeting the greenhouse gas reduction goals established in statute for 2028 and in the Comprehensive Energy Plan for 2050, and be it further

 

Resolved: That this legislative body is prepared to work with the Governor, diverse stakeholders, and all Vermonters to identify and implement the policies, programs, and approaches annually required to achieve the State’s greenhouse gas reduction commitments, and be it further

 

Resolved: That the Clerk of the House be directed to send a copy of this resolution to President Donald Trump, to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, to Governor Jay Inslee of Washington State, to Governor Jerry Brown of California, to Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York, to Governor Philip Scott, to Attorney General Thomas J. Donovan Jr., and to the Vermont Congressional Delegation.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Mark Shepard June 16, 2017 at 9:34 pm

Exceptional call Rob

Reply

Leslie Mooney June 16, 2017 at 10:25 pm

It’s frustrating that they used that old “97% of scientists…” canard in the resolution, as it has been thoroughly debunked: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/425232/climate-change-no-its-not-97-percent-consensus-ian-tuttle

Reply

Boganboy June 18, 2017 at 2:55 am

I must admit that I really dislike the notion of my money being wasted on ‘poor, developing’ countries. I believe that the proper place for my money is my pocket.

Reply

David Usher June 19, 2017 at 12:30 pm

Good piece, Rob.

Reply

Willem Post June 19, 2017 at 2:56 pm

Green Climate Fund: A total of 193 countries signed on to COP-21, but that means nothing, unless they agree to do something, to undertake pain. The majority of these countries are underdeveloped and developing countries. They signed on to COP-21 in expectation of payments from the Green Climate Fund. Only a few countries have made financial contributions to the Green Climate Fund. See below URLs.
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/jun/5/paris-climate-agreem

The Fund is administered by the UN. As of 17 May 2017, a total of $10.3 billion had been pledged to the Fund.
– EU member states pledged $4.7 billion (UK $1.2 b; France $1.0 b; Germany $1.0 b; Others $1.5 b)
– US $3.0 billion; already paid $1 billion.
– Rest of World $2.6 billion (Japan $1.5 b; China $0; India $0; Others $1.1 b). See table in URL.

The Fund’s initial goal is to distribute to recipient countries $100 billion in 2020, and much more in EACH YEAR thereafter. The US, about 20% of gross world product, likely would be hit up for $20 billion in 2020, and much more in EACH YEAR thereafter. That Fund likely would become the mother of all boondoggles.

No. Thank you, said Trump. He was not about to let the UN do boondoggle projects with US taxpayer money, especially when considering the insufficient outcomes of almost all prior COP conferences.
http://www.greenclimate.fund/partners/contributors/resources-mobilized

If the world is making so little progress towards RE, then the US, “doing its RE part” by staying with COP-21, would be engaging in an expensive exercise in futility.

The RE movement is primarily driven by Europe, Japan and others, because they have insufficient domestic energy resources. Europe, Japan and others want the US to stay with COP-21, as a big source of cash for future financing of the Green Climate Fund, and because they would become less competitive versus the US, if they increased investments in RE and the US did not.

The US, with chronic budget deficits of about $500 billion/y, already has a huge trade handicap, largely due to overinvesting in defense spending to maintain its world leadership peacekeeping role, and underinvesting in the goods and service sectors. For decades, Europe, Japan and others have underinvested in defense, because of the US protection guarantee; only 5 of 29 NATO nations spend at least 2% of GDP on their own defense.

Country Defense Spending
% of GDP
US 3.61
Greece 2.38
UK 2.21
Estonia 2.16
Poland 2.00

Europe, Japan and others have been shirking the world peacekeeping burden, as it would divert investments from their goods and services sectors. Instead, they invested in producing and exporting superior goods and services, which the US did not. This causes the US, hamstrung by having to adhere to World Trade Organization rules, to have chronic trade and budget deficits, each about $500 billion/y.

Europe, Japan and others want to keep the good times rolling, i.e., have the US protect them for free, if possible, in hamstrung mode, with chronic trade and budget deficits, WTO rules, and COP-21 requirements.

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