The 2015 Paris Climate Agreement

A large granite building in classical architechture, with large columns in front. There is a flowering trees in the right foreground and an American flag on a pole at left-center. Spray from a water fountain is seen at the far left foreground and blue sky is overhead.

President Trump just fulfilled a campaign promise by withdrawing the United States from participation in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.  While withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement was not a specific promise, he repeatedly claimed he would evaluate current US commitments and either cancel or renegotiate those commitments in the best interests of the country.

The 2015 Paris Climate Agreement set some lofty goals which reportedly addressed greenhouse gas emissions, and there were immediate howls of protest to this action. Despite all the noise, climate change causes like greenhouse gas emissions are arguably far from settled science. And while there are legitimate arguments both for and against man-made climate change, that is not the subject at hand.

Hubbub and hubris aside, what are the details of the terms of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement? Who will administer the Paris Climate Agreement? Can countries ‘opt out’ once the agreement becomes legally binding if it becomes more beneficial for them to do so? Will it be effective in performing as promised? Which nations are involved? How long will it last?

These are all essential questions, but let’s examine just one aspect of this agreement; the structural and procedural details. By doing so we’ll find out what we know, and don’t know, about it.

The 2015 Paris Climate Agreement falls under the auspices of the United Nations (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – the UNFCCC). While some organizations deny it is enforceable, the legal framework is already in place to make it so. Once the requirements of implementation are met, a governing body will be set up to enforce the agreement according to international law.

There are some inherent problems with the way the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement is set up;

  1. It falls under the auspices of the United Nations. This is the same political body which has shown a strong tendency toward globalization at the expense of national sovereignty. Last time I checked, the people (at least in the United States) have a God-given right to govern themselves, and not be governed by foreign courts and interests. That’s a red flag.
  2. There are no defined sanctions for those countries which fail to meet their commitments. That’s a bit like not having set penalties for those who break the law. Theft can be punished in multiple ways in various countries, ranging from reimbursement to losing an appendage. The decision of enforcement, then, would fall to the United Nations. If you don’t think that’s a problem then refer to point #1.
  3. The 2015 Paris Agreement will automatically become enforceable under international law 30 days after 55 participants contributing at least 55% of total greenhouse gas emissions ratify the agreement. That means that an agreement with no defined enforcement penalties, under unknown leadership, subjected to a potentially hostile governing body, would be able to dictate unknown restrictions and penalties on ‘offending’ participant nations, using military force if necessary. Is that acceptable?
  4. Participant nations just have to ‘trust’ that the UN will be fair in its administration of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. That, in my opinion, is nowhere near good enough. Given the track record of the UN in dealing with controversial issues like abortion and home schooling, the problems with submitting US national sovereignty to the UN (an external, international body) is fraught with pitfalls.
  5. Jesus had something to say about making commitments without understanding the ramifications.

Luke 14:28-32

For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it —  lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’  Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand?  Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. (NKJV)

This is the most important point of all, and we would do well in heeding His advice. While Jesus spoke this regarding those who would follow Him, the principle still applies.

The 2015 Paris Climate Agreement is undefined, subject to unknown leadership, with unknown penalties, to be enforced by an organization which has enacted policies contrary to the governmental structure, fundamental freedoms, and way of life, of those who live in the United States. Only a fool would agree to terms like that – at least according to Jesus.

Regardless of political leanings, it seems to me that Mr. Trump is doing just what he said he would do. Kudos, Mr. President. Kudos, indeed.

Tagged with: , , ,