Lawrence Solomon: The Paris accord always was a sham

(June 1, 2017) The accord allowed politicians to pay lip service meanwhile raising taxes in the name of the environment.

This article, by Lawrence Solomon, first appeared in the National Post

The repercussions of President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement will be profound and positive — for the global environment, for the global economy, and especially for Canada, which stands to be one of the biggest winners of all.

The Paris accord always was a sham. Its targets were voluntary, allowing Germany, Japan, China, India and other signatories to continue their massive coal developments, and others, such as the U.K., to embark on aggressive programs to develop shale gas. But though it was a sham to which most leaders paid lip service, Paris did gull a large segment of the public into thinking the countries of the world had made some grand bargain to which they must adhere, giving politicians new justifications for taxing the public through carbon policies. Canada’s left-leaning politicians, led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, have especially leapt at this opportunity.

With the collapse of the Paris accord there is no longer a grand bargain and politicians are no longer able to exhort their citizens to pay carbon-related levies in solidarity with the citizens of the world. For Canadians, there is now hope for an end to the ruinous policies, such as those that led to unaffordable power prices, that have led our manufacturing industries to move to America’s low-cost regions — Procter and Gamble is the latest company to leave, fleeing coal-free Ontario for the low-cost coal country of West Virginia. Trudeau will soon be feeling the heat from the Conservatives’ new leader, Andrew Scheer, who promises to abolish Trudeau’s “cash grab” carbon tax, saying it “raises the cost of everything and puts jobs at risk while doing little for the environment.”

The last time the Liberals ran for office on an in-your-face carbon-tax policy, in 2008 with Stéphane Dion as their leader, they were reduced to just 25 per cent of the seats in Parliament, which at the time was their worst drubbing since Confederation. Knowing the public’s aversion to carbon taxes, Trudeau crafted a stealth campaign that steered clear of climate change to win the 2015 election. Knowing he won’t be able to run another stealth climate change campaign for the next general election, expected in just two years, Trudeau and the Liberals will need to temper their carbon enthusiasm to avoid another debacle.

European leaders who tout climate policies will also feel the heat — many have in any case been curbing their promotion of renewable energy to minimize damage to their economies, which like Canada’s has seen manufacturing industries flee to the United States. Thanks to fracking, the U.S. is no longer the world’s number one importer of oil and gas; instead it’s the world’s number one producer.

But economies and energy consumers won’t be the only beneficiaries of abandoning Paris and boosting fossil fuels. Contrary to the bad press that carbon dioxide receives, this colourless, odourless and tasteless gas is no pollutant. Carbon dioxide, nature’s fertilizer, is instead an environmental boon, responsible for greening the planet.

Until 1979, when satellites started to collect comprehensive data on Planet Earth, we had no way of accurately measuring the greenery of the planet. Over the last decade, the evidence has been streaming in, and as biologists expected, it shows that the rising levels of carbon dioxide have corresponded to rising levels of greenery. As confirmed in the most recent study, described last week in Science magazine, Canada’s boreal forests have been especial winners over the last 20 years: “much of the increase in greening is due to an increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide.”

For Canadians, there is now hope for an end to ruinous green policies

Ironically, an effect of carbon dioxide has been to cool the planet since the extra greenery acts to absorb sunlight, rather than allowing it to be reflected back to space. “In mapping the entire planet, the group found that for approximately 60 percent of all plant areas, an increase in greening has mitigated global warming by approximately 14 percent,” Science added.

In contrast to these undeniable, quantifiable, verifiable and seeable environmental benefits, confirmed and reconfirmed in study after study, none of the piles of studies showing harm from carbon dioxide have offered anything but unverifiable theories based on countless models that have invariably flopped. Likewise, the harm to economies from pursuing climate change policies is self evident in abandoned manufacturing plants and rising levels of fuel poverty, while the claimed benefits are based on dodgy theoretical models of what might come to pass a century or two from now.

Lawrence Solomon is executive director of Energy Probe, a Toronto-based environmental group. Email: LawrenceSolomon@nextcity.com.

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About Lawrence Solomon

Lawrence Solomon is one of Canada's leading environmentalists. His book, The Conserver Solution (Doubleday) popularized the Conserver Society concept in the late 1970s and became the manual for those interested in incorporating environmental factors into economic life. An advisor to President Jimmy Carter's Task Force on the Global Environment (the Global 2000 Report) in the late 1970's, he has since been at the forefront of movements to reform foreign aid, stop nuclear power expansion and adopt toll roads. Mr. Solomon is a founder and managing director of Energy Probe Research Foundation and the executive director of its Energy Probe and Urban Renaissance Institute divisions. He has been a columnist for The Globe and Mail, a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, the editor and publisher of the award-winning The Next City magazine, and the author or co-author of seven books, most recently The Deniers, a #1 environmental best-seller in both Canada and the U.S. .
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