We Don’t Need Paris Accord to Reduce Emissions: We Already Are

Cuomo's Legacy - Dick DowneyRichard Downey
Unatego Area Landowners Association


Thanks to fracking, the US is already reducing CO2 emissions faster than any other nation; we don’t need a feel-good treaty like the Paris Accord.

The weather may be cool but expect heat at the Otsego County Legislature meeting this week. The arrival of compressed gas delivery trucks locally coupled with the President’s rejection of the Paris Accord should bring the antis out in droves.

First, the trucks. Absent a pipeline, compressed gas delivery trucks are an imperfect solution for delivering affordable energy to Upstate and the Northeast’s factories, agricultural facilities, colleges, hospitals, and government institutions. Gas truck delivery costs more but it gets affordable energy to where it is needed..

Paris Accord

The reasonable solution is more transmission and distribution pipelines that delivers the energy in an efficient, affordable, safe manner. When pipelines expand, trucking contracts. But don’t expect pipeline support from the antis. They worship at the keep-gas-in-the-ground altar, no matter the costs to the local economy or ultimately to the environment they profess to defend.

This shortsighted approach is reflected in the antis’ response to President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Accord. President Trump characterized it as a bad deal. It is. Even supporters concede that if the 195 signatory nations meet ALL their commitments, the result will be only 0.17 degrees Celsius saved by Year 2100. This is far below the 2.0 degrees Celsius supposedly needed to save the planet. (Don’t reach for the Valium or the rosary beads yet, folks.   These Doomsday numbers are from mathematical models where all the variables and their appropriate weights in the algorithm are still unknown. It’s all . . . a guess!)

The 195 national commitments to reduce CO2 are “volunteered” by the participating nations. But some nations are off the hook. Developing nations, including big polluters like China and India, account for 63% of CO2 emissions. They don’t have to meet their commitments until “around” year 2030.

It gets better. There is no enforcement mechanism in the treaty, only the internal integrity of the participating nation. Say what you will about the USA, we’re a nation of laws . . . and lawyers. Should our country ever miss a committed environmental benchmark, lawyers from the Sierra Club, Earth Justice, and the NRDC will be shopping for judges to take Uncle Sam to court. Kazakhstan, Moldavia, Sierra Leone and scores of counties with weak legal systems will face no such pressure to comply. Bottom line:   The USA will more than likely keep its commitments, no matter what the economic pain will be; other nations won’t.

In the meantime, using technology and innovation, the United States has actually reduced CO2 emissions to levels not seen since 1992. The Energy Information Administration’s May 9th report states, “U.S. Energy related carbon dioxide emissions were 12% below the 2005 levels . . . mostly because of decreased use of coal and increased use of natural gas for electricity generation.”   This emissions drop is all the more remarkable because our population grew and the economy is 15% larger than it was in 2005.

Paris Accord

In Germany, the antis’ poster child for climate correctness, emissions have flattened over the last few years while residential electricity rates have increased 55%. Ordinary Germans now pay three times the rate charged to the average American.

Why is the United States the only large national economy posting these dramatic emissions declines?

One word: fracking.

If China and India are to wean themselves off coal, it will probably be due to our natural gas exports and, in the future, our technological exchange. Yes, thank fracking technology. It’s driven down the break-even point 80% since 2008. And it will probably go lower.

We don’t need a phony pledge to a feel-good treaty to uphold the unachievable, the unverifiable, and the unenforceable. Trump says he can negotiate a better deal. Have at it, Prez.

In the meantime let’s continue our path to a clean environment through economic growth and technological innovation. That’s the best insurance for climate change, not phony good intentions and fairy tales.

Richard Downey is a retired New York City schoolteacher and a member of the Unatego Board of Education and the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York.

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9 thoughts on “We Don’t Need Paris Accord to Reduce Emissions: We Already Are

  1. Well I agree that we are reducing emissions, natural gas certainly deserves some credit for that and I think further reductions in co2 emissions and changes in energy will be the future regardless of President Trump’s recent decision. Amazingly one will find Al Gore in the news right now criticizing the Paris agreement exit decision and yet Mr Gore has yet to receive flack for being proud of his daughter when she got arrested in a natural gas pipeline construction ditch last summer nor is he being criticized for ignoring this antifracking pipeline resistance movement which is massively misinforming the public and has for years. What are we going to pretend this man doesn’t know the difference between natural gas and coal or other fossil fuels? Please.

      • Ancient history doesn’t really interest me all that much. I think it is reasonable to assume that Al Gore does accept the science on climate change. Recently his daughter was arrested in a natural gas pipeline construction ditch. That was after her appearance at a pancakes not pipelines protest at FERC and after a fascinating letter was written by her and published in the nytimes about the constitution pipeline. She was not in favor of the Constitution pipeline I’m sure you can guess and soon following her letter along awaited permit for that pipeline was denied by the NY DEC. It is unreasonable to assume that Al Gore thinks coal is a better fuel for the environment than natural gas. Unless of course he has now fully adopted the mantra of the antifracking natural gas movement which has been telling people natural gas is worse than coal for climate change for years now.

        Just in case you don’t know, also arrested with karenna Gore was Tim de christopher along with the young woman who eventually went on to sustain a serious injury while protesting the dakota pipeline. But that’s not about natural gas.

  2. http://www.roanoke.com/business/news/as-filings-pile-up-pipeline-watchdogs-call-for-supplemental-draft/article_8218f498-d4a5-5c2c-85a9-eb6351cd7d13.html#comments

    By the way maybe someone can explain to me why this guy is sitting behind a mountain of paperwork if as the antifracking pipeline resistance movement claims, FERC just rubber-stamps natural gas pipelines and companies do little more than send in a little post-it note to FERC?

    How is it that the antifracking pipeline resistance movement can say so many incredulous things, things that are incredibly easy to prove are false and still reporters and politicians and people are listening to them? That is completely nuts!

  3. The Carnegie Mellon Power Sector Carbon Index declined 24% from 2005 to 2016. The carbon intensity for coal = 2231 pounds of CO2 per MWh and carbon intensity for natural gas = 930 pounds of CO2 per MWh. Coal Carbon[ CO2] intensity is 2.4 times that of natural gas. The USA electrical power industry continues to convert older coal-fired power plant to natural gas due to the abundance and lower cost of shale gas.

    Dr. Richard W. Goodwin PE West Palm Beach FL 6/5/17

  4. Ladies and Gentlemen: Fossils fuels are a fraction of the Global warming equation. Where are the headlines about the refrigeration gases in air conditioners, freezers, coolers and refrigerators (which have 2000 or more times the global warming impact than CO2 and which last thousands of years in the atmosphere and are not absorbed or sequestered by plants? As China and India grow their middle class these appliances are booming in the many millions. Where are the daily headlines about the enormous methane production from rice paddies in Asia? Where is the daily outrage of the denuding of great expanses of the Indonesian and Amazonian forests which are global impact sequestration machines? Where is the daily outrage that forests and farmland are being forever denuded for great subsidized swaths of WallStreet Solar Industrial Parks? Where are the daily headlines about the loss of albido (Earth’s reflection of sunlight back into space caused by a change in pollutant components in the upper atmosphere)? Where is the vaunted Interdisciplinary approach which used to be the hallmark of ecological studies? At least the Earth makes use of methane and it is a natural component of many of the planets in the solar system. And what of the “Methane Burp” and the 80 degree ambient temperature during the Dinosaur age when humans could not have possibly caused the global warming? What about the venting of methane by the middle eastern countries because they can not market it profitably? Why does the rest of world see the speck that is in our eye, but doesn’t consider the plank that is in their own eye?

    • Paul, those are some very good questions, indeed. I doubt the anti-frackers and their hypocritical cohorts could muster a reasonable and well thought out response.

  5. My question is does the Paris Accord or any so called agreement include the the total amount of CO2 that would have to be generated just mine materials, transport (usually from China), build, transport, construct and maintain so called renewables and their associated transmission systems? If not, why isn’t that added to the equation? Wait till the protesters starts going bananas as they site these facilities closer and closer to their own backyards!

  6. Well written Mr Downey as usual.

    Never expect to reason with a Democrat on energy issues (or many other topics these days). Climate change is their shiny new religion, and dissent is neither welcome nor tolerated- just like
    conservatives in cuomo’s kingdom of deception. He’s obliterated the entire gas industry while we use more of it than ever.


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