Gov. Roy Cooper said “North Carolina knows that clean air and energy innovation are good for our economy and health.” Then he doubled down on an agreement that achieves neither.
Gov. Cooper and Mayor Bill Bell recently signed an open letter to the international community declaring that our state and the city of Durham were “Still in” with regard to the Paris climate agreement. The compact, from which President Donald Trump rightly withdrew the United States on June 1, imposed a goal of an almost 30 percent reduction in U.S. carbon emissions by 2025—an unrealistic benchmark that threatened to strangle our economy.
Even if the U.S. and all other nations that took part in the agreement met their obligations, increases in global temperatures would vary little from the anticipated increases if the agreement were not in place, according to scientists supportive of the climate deal.
While the agreement’s positive impact on the environment is negligible its negative affect on the economy is not.
Nationwide, regulations to comply with the Paris agreement would cost 2.7 million American jobs by 2025. By 2040, these regulations would kill 6.5 million industrial jobs; American workers and their families would earn $7,000 less in income; and the economy would lose $3 trillion in gross domestic product, according to a study by National Economic Research Associates.
In North Carolina the Clean Power Plan, an overreaching regulation that the Trump administration is dismantling, families would have seen their annual energy bills go up by 22 percent, or $434 by 2020. And the more vulnerable members of our community would have been hurt most. Professor Gene R. Nichol, director of the former Center on Poverty, Work, and Opportunity at UNC Law School, has documented how low-income households spend an ever-growing portion of their income on electricity and suffer greatly from higher energy prices.
Worldwide, compliance with the agreement could slow the pace of development and hinder economic growth.
From their well-lit, air-conditioned and heated offices, global bureaucrats tell the 1.35 billion people who live without electricity that their poor standard of living should continue for a token display of environmental fealty.
This isn’t the best way forward.
Innovation, not regulation, will provide real solutions to protect our environment. The international community should strive to promote the economic growth that begets technological advancement and encourages the development of cleaner, more efficient energy sources.
Supporters of the agreement bemoan the U.S. withdrawal as an abdication of leadership, but the U.S. is already showing the world that prosperity and development hold the key by innovating our way to a cut of 145 million tons in carbon emissions last year, more than any other country.
If North Carolina is “Still in” the Paris climate agreement, then Gov. Cooper must outline what our state’s obligation will be, how and under what authority he plans to meet it, and what it will cost taxpayers and consumers.
Rather than more pricey posturing, Gov. Cooper and Mayor Bell should focus on convincing the technology sector and entrepreneurs who will develop solutions for the future that Durham, North Carolina, is a great place to do business.
Donald Bryson is the North Carolina state director of Americans for Prosperity.