This week, U.S. House of Representative Democrats brought the “Climate Action Now Act” (H.R. 9) to the floor for a vote. The bill entails three main provisions. First, it would prevent President Trump from withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord. Next, it would require he immediately develop a plan for implementation consistent with the last administration’s pledge. Finally, it would prevent any funds from being expended on withdrawal activities.
It’s hard to take congressional Democrats sudden interest in engaging in the active management of the Paris Accord seriously. They were the worst offenders in working with the French government to draft the Paris Accord in a way that ensured it would not trigger any formal congressional role, such as “advice and consent” in the U.S. Senate. During the summer of 2015, the French Foreign Minister Laurence Fabius famously stated, “We must find a formula which is valuable for everybody and valuable for the U.S. without going to the Congress.”
Recall too that when Democrats controlled all levers of power in 2010, they chose not to advance their own climate legislation, referred to as cap-and-trade. It barely passed in the U.S. House and was never brought to the U.S. Senate floor by then-Majority Leader Harry Reid. That’s because, virtue signaling aside, the real-world effects of higher electricity rates, more expensive gas and costly groceries are not popular with the American people.
It’s also hard to take seriously the bill's requirement for developing a plan to fulfill the last administration’s arbitrary 26 to 28 percent emission reduction commitment. The Obama-era plan was so impractical it fell short of its stated goal by 40 percent. Further problematic, a large portion of meeting the goal was premised on implementation of the Clean Power Plan, which the Supreme Court stopped in its tracks because of concerns it was patently illegal.
The amount on the line by preventing the expenditure of funds on withdrawal activities at this point is a mere 55 cents – the cost of postage for sending a letter from the White House to the United Nations' Secretary-General in New York.
After a few emotionally-charged floor statements and passage in the House, this bill won’t go anywhere. Not because Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans don’t care about climate change or the environment, but rather they know that the U.S. already leads the world in reducing greenhouse gas emissions due to the president’s energy dominance agenda.
Alternatively, the Paris Accord’s most vociferous international advocates and self-anointed climate leaders have failed at making any meaningful progress. In places like France, domestic implementation in the form of a gas tax erupted into the massive yellow vest protests. In China and India, greenhouse gas emissions continue to skyrocket. In Germany, electricity rates have increased by 50 percent without significant emission reductions.
The Democrats vote on H.R. 9 indicates deafness toward the real world effects and responses to the Paris Climate Accord. It also makes clear a stubborn unwillingness to recognize the Trump Administration’s success at achieving pro-growth and pro-environment goals.