Conservative Media Celebrate Earth Day By Recycling Myths About Paris Climate Agreement

On Earth Day, 175 countries signed the Paris Climate Agreement -- the most countries to ever sign an international accord on a single day. Conservative media are reacting by recycling debunked myths about the landmark climate change agreement. Here are the facts.

175 Nations Celebrate Earth Day With Record Signing Of International Climate Agreement

On Earth Day, 175 Nations Sign Paris Climate Agreement. On Earth Day, the United States joined 174 other countries to sign the Paris agreement on climate change, breaking the record for the most signatories of an international agreement on a single day, as USA Today noted. Mashable reported that the “massive single-day signing” far surpasses the previous record of “119 signatories on the opening day of the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea in 1982." [USA Today, 4/22/16; Mashable, 4/20/16]

FACT: Primary U.S. Climate Policy Will Ultimately Reduce Electricity Bills, And Low-Income Families Will Benefit From Shift To Clean Energy

FACT: Poor, Developing Countries Are Most At Risk From Unmitigated Climate Change

FACT: Paris Agreement Is Not A Treaty And Does Not Require Congressional Approval

FACT: The Benefits Of Acting On Climate Change Far Outweigh The Costs

 FACT: Paris Agreement Is A Big Step Towards Limiting Climate Change 

FACT: The Public Strongly Supports Climate Action

MYTH: Paris Agreement Will Put Americans Into “Green Energy Poverty”

  • In a blog published by the Heartland Institute, Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE) president Marita Noon urged readers to make this week “Green Energy Poverty Week,” because climate policies resembling the Paris agreement and the EPA’s Clean Power Plan have supposedly been proven to create “energy poverty,” which Noon defined as households that spend more than 10 percent of their income on energy costs. Both the Heartland Institute and CARE have received funding from the oil industry. [Heartland.org, 4/19/16; Media Matters, 7/31/15]
  • The Washington Times published a column by online opinion editor Monica Crowley, who claimed that “the policies stemming from the Paris agreement will cause utility rates to rise dramatically, inevitably causing economic pain for countless energy users,” which she also described as “green energy poverty.” [The Washington Times, 4/20/16]
  • Right-wing website HotAir.com’s weekend editor asserted that the Paris climate agreement represents “the prospect of rapidly rising energy costs in America for no discernible payoff,” adding that this is why “those in the energy community have chosen to counter Earth Day by naming April 17-23 ‘Green Energy Poverty Week.’” [HotAir.com, 4/21/16]

FACT: Primary U.S. Climate Policy Will Ultimately Reduce Electricity Bills, And Low-Income Families Will Benefit From Shift To Clean Energy

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy: Clean Power Plan Will Cut Average American's Electric Bill By 7 Percent in 2030. In an August 3 blog post about the Clean Power Plan, the flagship U.S. climate policy that places the first-ever federal limits on carbon pollution from power plants, EPA administrator Gina McCarthy stated: "[T]he Clean Power Plan is projected to cut the average American's monthly electricity bill by 7 percent in 2030. We'll get these savings by cutting energy waste and beefing up energy efficiency across the board." McCarthy was citing data from the EPA's regulatory analysis of the Clean Power Plan final rule, which estimated an average monthly bill increase of 2.4-2.7 percent in 2020, an average bill decrease of 2.7-3.8 percent in 2025, and an average bill decrease of 7.0-7.7 percent in 2030, when the plan is fully implemented. Additionally, an Obama Administration fact sheet stated that the Clean Power Plan will "[s]ave the average American family nearly $85 on their annual energy bill in 2030, reducing enough energy to power 30 million homes, and save consumers a total of $155 billion from 2020-2030." [EPA.gov, 8/3/15; EPA.gov, August 2015; EPA.gov, accessed 4/21/16; whitehouse.gov, 8/3/15]

Synapse Energy's Clean Power Plan Analysis: Boosting Renewables And Energy Efficiency “Lowers Electricity Costs Over The Long Term.” In a July 23 report, Synapse Energy Economics, Inc., whose clients include public utility commissions, government offices, and non-profit organizations, found that “reducing electricity sector emissions through the addition of energy efficiency and renewable energy actually lowers electricity costs over the long term compared to continuing with existing practices and policies.” Synapse detailed how consumer bills would fall in a “Clean Power Plan compliance scenario with strong energy efficiency and renewable energy investments” :

In a Synapse Clean Power Plan compliance scenario with strong energy efficiency and renewable energy investments (the “Clean Energy Future” scenario), consumer bills are expected to fall while states meet or exceed their emissions targets. For the two-thirds of residential consumers who participate in ratepayer-funded energy efficiency programs under this scenario, 2030 bills are expected to be $35 per month lower than in a business-as-usual ( “Reference” ) scenario and, on average, $14 per month cheaper than residential bills were in 2012. 

Synapse further explained that consumers would “save the most” in states that “invest in new renewable energy sources early on.” It added that consumer costs would not increase "[e]ven in a scenario in which ... CO2 emissions are dramatically lower than the levels required in the proposed Clean Power Plan," due to “the falling costs of renewables, steady costs of energy efficiency, and increasing costs of conventional generation.” [Synapse Energy Economics, 7/23/15; synapse-energy.com, accessed 4/21/16]

Georgia Tech Study: Clean Power Plan Can Result In U.S. Electricity Bills That Are 6 To 8 Percent Lower in 2030. The Georgia Tech School of Public Policy published a July 2015 working paper, which found that, nationwide, “compliance with the [Clean Power Plan] rate goals can be achieved” with per capita electricity bills in 2030 that are 6 to 8 percent lower than in a business-as-usual scenario, and that cost savings from complying with the plan “are likely due to the lower electricity sales resulting from greater energy efficiency.” The report noted that the “low-carbon pathways” it assessed for complying with the Clean Power Plan included “introducing carbon prices, strengthening energy efficiency policies, and updating cost assumptions for solar photovoltaic (PV) systems.” [Georgia Tech School of Public Policy, July 2015]

NRDC: Low-Income Communities In U.S. Helped By Clean Energy Shift. A report from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) found that low-income communities in the United States face disproportionate health impacts from fossil fuel pollution, and that shifting to low carbon energy sources can lessen these impacts:

[T]he shift to clean energy offers a chance to prevent the worst impacts of climate change, while lessening the toll that dirty fossil fuels are currently wreaking on some of our most vulnerable communities.

[...]

Nationally, the Clean Power Plan's efforts to curtail carbon pollution will help prevent up to 6,600 premature deaths, 150,000 asthma attacks in children, 3,300 heart attacks, 2,800 hospital admissions, and 490,000 missed work/school days annually in the United States. A sizable impact will be felt by those with the least resources and least access to quality healthcare -- low- and fixed-income Americans; in part because low-income communities are stuck living closer to dirty power plants. [NRDC, accessed 4/21/16]

MYTH: Poor Countries Will Suffer From The Paris Climate Agreement

  • The Washington Times’ Monica Crowley wrote that the Paris climate agreement is “really mostly about coercing wealth from the industrialized world and transferring it to the underdeveloped one. The rich irony is that contrary to the agreement’s proponents that it will ‘eradicate poverty,’ green energy mandates actually hurt the poor the most.” [The Washington Times, 4/20/16]

FACT: Poor, Developing Countries Are Most At Risk From Unmitigated Climate Change

U.N. Report: Climate Change Effects Amplified In Poor Societies. The Center for Global Development (CGD) compiled portions of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report that clarify the climate-related risks disproportionately faced by the poor (emphasis added by CGD):

Impacts from recent climate-related extremes, such as heat waves, droughts, floods, cyclones, and wildfires, reveal significant vulnerability and exposure of some ecosystems and many human systems to current climate variability (very high confidence)

[...] Risks are amplified for those lacking essential infrastructure and services or living in poor-quality housing and exposed areas

Until mid-century, projected climate change will impact human health mainly by exacerbating health problems that already exist (very high confidence). Throughout the 21st century, climate change is expected to lead to increases in ill-health in many regions andespecially in developing countries with low income, as compared to a baseline without climate change (high confidence)

Climate-change impacts are expected to exacerbate poverty in most developing countries and create new poverty pockets in countries with increasing inequality, in both developed and developing countries. In urban and rural areas, wage-labor-dependent poor households that are net buyers of food are expected to be particularly affected due to food price increases, including in regions with high food insecurity and high inequality (particularly in Africa), although the agricultural self-employed could benefit. Insurance programs, social protection measures, and disaster risk management may enhance long-term livelihood resilience among poor and marginalized people, if policies address poverty and multidimensional inequalities [Center for Global Development, 4/1/14]

World Health Organization: Children Living In Poor Countries Among The Most Vulnerable To Health Risks Of Climate Change. The World Health Organization highlighted the ways that climate change will have a disproportionate impact on people -- and children in particular -- in poor and developing countries:

Children -- in particular, children living in poor countries -- are among the most vulnerable to the resulting health risks and will be exposed longer to the health consequences.

Areas with weak health infrastructure - mostly in developing countries - will be the least able to cope without assistance to prepare and respond. [World Health Organization, January 2010]

Stanford's Jacobson: Fossil Fuel Pollution Responsible For Millions Of Mortalities In Developing Countries. Mark Jacobson, director of Stanford University's Atmosphere and Energy program, told Media Matters:

Fossil fuels and solid biofuels kill 4-7 million people prematurely worldwide each year, primarily in developing countries, and 20% of the mortalities are children under the age of 5 years old. Further, the extreme heat and crop death that occurs such as in Sub-Saharan Africa due to the growth of fossil-fuel emissions and resulting global warming is enhancing heat-stress mortality and famine-related mortality. [Email to Media Matters, 6/25/15, data from World Health Organization, 3/25/14]

World Bank: Impacts From Climate Change Could Reverse Improvements In Poverty Reduction. A 2012 report from the World Bank titled “Turn Down The Heat” stated that climate change impacts will have “adverse implications for efforts to reduce poverty,” including reversing improvements made in malnutrition and health services (emphasis added):

The projected increase in intensity of extreme events in the future would likely have adverse implications for efforts to reduce poverty, particularly in developing countries. Recent projections suggest that the poor are especially sensitive to increases in drought intensity in a 4°C world, especially across Africa, South Asia, and other regions.

[...]

Whilst economic growth is projected to significantly reduce childhood stunting, climate change is projected to reverse these gains in a number of regions: substantial increases in stunting due to malnutrition are projected to occur with warming of 2°C to 2.5°C, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, and this is likely to get worse at 4°C. Despite significant efforts to improve health services (for example, improved medical care, vaccination development, surveillance programs), significant additional impacts on poverty levels and human health are expected. [World Bank, Turn Down The Heat, November 2012]

MYTH: The Paris Climate Agreement Is A Treaty And It Is Unconstitutional To Sidestep Congress

  • The Washington Times published an op-ed by oil industry-funded Heritage Foundation President and former Republican Senator Jim DeMint, who wrote that the Paris agreement “is certainly a treaty,” and that President Obama is “ignoring his Constitutional duty to submit treaties to the Senate.” [The Washington Times, 4/21/16]
  • The Daily Signal, the Heritage Foundation's website, published an op-ed by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) headlined: “Obama’s Violating the Constitution by Not Submitting Climate Treaty to Senate.” [The Daily Signal, 4/22/16]
  • The Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Marlo Lewis wrote in The Hill that “the President pretends the agreement is not a treaty so he can attempt to adopt it unilaterally, without engaging the Senate, where the pact would be dead on arrival.” Lewis added that “Obama has no authority to make America a party to the Paris Agreement in the first place.” [The Hill, 4/20/16]

FACT: Paris Agreement Is Not A Treaty And Does Not Require Congressional Approval

Former Bush And Clinton Administration Treaty Lawyer: President Has Authority When Agreement “Doesn’t Require A Change In U.S. Law.” Nigel Purvis, founding president of consulting firm Climate Advisers and a former State Department treaty lawyer under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, told The Washington Post that “[t]he Senate has already had its say,” and added: “The basic rule is if an international agreement doesn’t require a change in U.S. law, if the president has the authority to implement the agreement with existing law, you don’t need to send it to Congress for approval.” Purvis also noted that presidents since George Washington have joined “executive agreements” without seeking Senate approval. The Post further reported:

Whatever agreement emerges from Paris, he has no intention of submitting it to the Senate for ratification as a treaty. The administration argues that any agreement does not bind the United States to a course of action. Moreover, it says the Clean Air Act and the United Nations Framework on Climate Change signed by former President George H.W. Bush already give Obama the authority he needs to carry out climate commitments.

There are disadvantages to that approach: a new president could back away from the Obama climate plan. A treaty would bind all future presidents to comply with it. For now, however, even without formally signing an agreement, the Obama administration is expected to abide by its own policies aimed at reducing carbon emissions by 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. [The Washington Post, 11/30/15]

NRDC’s David Doniger: Paris Agreement “Doesn’t Create New International Legal Obligations.” David Doniger, the Natural Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC) Climate & Clean Air Program Director who helped formulate the international Montreal Protocol agreement to protect the ozone layer, explained that the Paris agreement “doesn’t create a new international legal obligation.” Rather, Doniger noted, “It reiterates the obligations already contained in Article 4 of the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which the Senate approved “by an overwhelming vote.” Doniger concluded: “In short, what's called for by the Paris agreement doesn't create new international legal obligations. So the president doesn't need a new round of Senate advice and consent before the U.S. can become a party to Paris.” [NRDC, 12/12/15; NRDC, accessed 4/22/16]

Center For American Progress: Executive Agreements Account For “Overwhelming Majority” Of International Agreements In The United States “In The Modern Era.” Prior to the Paris agreement, Center for American Progress' Gwynne Taraska and Ben Bovarnick authored a report that found executive agreements are “a well-established means of entering international agreements and account for the overwhelming majority—94 percent—of international agreements in the United States in the modern era.” Based on a review of “182 multilateral executive agreements entered by the United States from 1985 through 2014,” the authors found that such agreements have been used “in almost all areas of international law, in matters of both great and minor significance, and throughout both Republican and Democratic administrations and congresses.” Taraska and Bovarnick concluded that as an executive agreement, “U.S. participation [in the Paris agreement] would be based on the authority granted by the Senate when it approved the original UNFCCC treaty in 1992, as well as the president’s constitutional foreign affairs power. The fact that the agreement would be consistent with existing U.S. laws, such as the Clean Air Act, and could be implemented without new legislation would supplement these authorities.” [Center for American Progress, 7/7/15]

MYTH: The Paris Climate Agreement Will Harm The U.S. Economy

  • USA Today published an op-ed by Bjorn Lomborg who wrote that the U.S. policies needed to achieve the Paris climate agreement would cost a “great deal,” and that it “is likely to be among most expensive treaties in the history of the world.” Specifically, Lomborg claimed that U.S. climate commitments would “reduce gross domestic product more than $150 billion annually.” [USA Today, 4/21/16]
  • The Daily Signal published an article stating that one of the reasons Congress “should reject” the Paris Climate Agreement is “[h]igher energy bills, fewer jobs and a weaker economy.” [The Daily Signal, 4/19/16; Media Matters, 7/31/15]
  • In her blog for the Heartland Institute, CARE’s Marita Noon cited a Heritage Foundation report to claim that the Paris Climate Agreement “will significantly harm the U.S. economy.” [Heartland.org, 4/19/16]

FACT: The Benefits Of Acting On Climate Change Far Outweigh The Costs

EPA Predicts Clean Power Plan Will Result In Up To $54 Billion In Annual Economic Benefits, Far Outweighing Costs. According to an EPA fact sheet, the Clean Power Plan “has public health and climate benefits worth an estimated $34 billion to $54 billion per year in 2030, far outweighing the costs of $8.4 billion.” [EPA.gov, accessed 4/21/16]

New Climate Institute Study: Countries' Climate Pledges Will Result In Huge Economic Benefits. The New Climate Institute analyzed the climate change commitments made by the U.S., European Union and China before the conference, and determined that those countries' climate change pledges would result in 1 million additional jobs by 2030 compared to current policies. The study found that the U.S. climate commitments alone would create 470,000 additional jobs by 2030 and save $160 billion per year due to reduced fossil fuel imports. [New Climate Institute, 3/30/15]

London School Of Economics: Countries Will Benefit Economically From Limiting Global Warming. According to The Guardian, a July study by researchers at the London School of Economics and Political Science found that "[t]he economic benefits for a country from tackling climate change easily outweigh the costs," and "[c]ountries stand to gain more than they would lose in economic terms from almost all of the actions needed to meet an agreed global warming limit" of 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The paper concluded that “the majority of the emissions reductions needed to decarbonise the global economy can be achieved in ways that are nationally net-beneficial to countries, even leaving aside the climate benefits.” [The Guardian, 7/12/15; London School of Economics, 7/13/15]

Institute For Policy Integrity: Global Climate Action Has Already Saved U.S. $200 Billion, Could Provide $2 Trillion Benefit To U.S. By 2030. A report by the Institute for Policy Integrity at the New York University School of Law found that global efforts to mitigate climate change have already resulted in economic benefits for the U.S. From the report:

The United States has already likely avoided billions of dollars of direct damage to its economy, public health, environment, and national security, thanks to actions undertaken by foreign jurisdictions, like the European Union, in the fight against climate change. Trillions of dollars more for the United States are at stake in securing commitments for future emissions reductions from foreign countries, like China and India.

[...]

As this report calculates, global actions on climate change--particularly by Europe, but also including efforts implemented by the United States and many other countries--have already benefited the United States, to date, by upwards of $200 billion. Based on existing policies to reduce carbon pollution and compared to a business-as-usual baseline, global actions will deliver upwards of another $2 trillion in direct benefits to the United States by the year 2030. [InsideClimate News, 11/5/15; Institute for Policy Integrity, November 2015]

Study: Unmitigated Climate Change Could Reduce Per Capita GDP In U.S. By 36 Percent By 2100. A recent study led by researchers from Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley found that climate change could “reshape the global economy by reducing average global incomes roughly 23% by 2100 and widening global income inequality.” In its coverage of the study, the Associated Press reported that "[t]he authors calculate a warmer U.S. in 2100 will have a gross domestic product per person that's 36 percent lower than it would be if warming stopped about now." [Nature, 10/21/15; Associated Press, 10/21/15]

White House Council of Economic Advisers Report: Failure To Act On Climate Could Cost U.S. At Least $150 Billion More Per Year. The White House Council of Economic Advisors released a report in 2014 detailing the economic costs of failing to act on climate change. Based on “a leading aggregate damage estimate in the climate economics literature,” the report found that the nation will suffer at least $150 billion in additional economic damages each year if global temperatures increase by three degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, rather than 2 degrees Celsius:

[A]lthough delaying action can reduce costs in the short run, on net, delaying action to limit the effects of climate change is costly. Because CO2 accumulates in the atmosphere, delaying action increases CO2 concentrations. Thus, if a policy delay leads to higher ultimate CO2 concentrations, that delay produces persistent economic damages that arise from higher temperatures and higher CO2 concentrations.

[...]

Based on a leading aggregate damage estimate in the climate economics literature, a delay that results in warming of 3° Celsius above preindustrial levels, instead of 2°, could increase economic damages by approximately 0.9 percent of global output. To put this percentage in perspective, 0.9 percent of estimated 2014 U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is approximately $150 billion. The incremental cost of an additional degree of warming beyond 3° Celsius would be even greater. Moreover, these costs are not onetime, but are rather incurred year after year because of the permanent damage caused by increased climate change resulting from the delay. [Whitehouse.gov, July 2014]

MYTH: The Paris Agreement Will Not Do Anything To Limit Climate Change

  • USA Today published an op-ed by Bjorn Lomborg, who claimed that the Paris Climate Agreement is a “hugely expensive way of doing very little,” and that the impact of the agreement on global temperatures will be “feeble.” [USA Today, 4/21/16]
  • USA Today also published an op-ed by John Coleman, co-founder of the Weather Channel, who stated: “The Paris climate agreement is all about empowering the U.N. and has nothing to do with the climate.” According to Coleman, the agreement is based on “[m]oney, politics and ideology” rather than science. [USA Today, 4/22/16]
  • In her Heartland Institute blog, CARE’s Marita Noon cited the Heritage Foundation’s claim that the Paris Climate Agreement will result in costs that “would be incurred to achieve only trivial and theoretical impacts on global warming.” [Heartland.org, 4/19/16]
  • The Daily Signal listed as one of its reasons Congress should reject the Paris agreement: “No impact on climate.” It further stated: “Regardless of one’s opinions on the degree to which climate change is occurring, regulations associated with the Paris accord will have no meaningful impact on the planet’s temperature.” [The Daily Signal, 4/19/16]

FACT: Paris Agreement Is A Big Step Towards Limiting Climate Change

Studies Show Countries' Climate Commitments Can Avert Approximately One Degree Celsius Of Warming. The nonprofit Climate Interactive projected that if all countries' existing carbon reduction pledges are “fully implemented,” with no further action, global temperatures will rise 3.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2100, which is 1 degree less than the 4.5 degrees Celsius of projected warming that would occur under ” business as usual." The Climate Action Tracker, a consortium of four research organizations, projected that the pledges submitted to the UN as of October 1, 2015, would limit global warming to 2.7 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2100, assuming “a similar level of effort will be undertaken by countries post-2030 as applies in the period 2020-2030.” That would be 0.8 degrees Celsius below the amount of warming that Climate Action Tracker projects to occur under countries’ policies prior to the Paris Agreement. In October, Bloomberg Business published a chart summarizing the range of projections based on countries’ climate commitments, which also included the International Energy Agency's (IEA) projection that -- in Bloomberg's words -- “temperatures were likely to rise by 2.6 degrees Celsius by 2100, and by 3.5 degrees Celsius a century later” :

[Climate Interactive, accessed 4/21/16; Climate Action Tracker, 10/19/15; International Energy Agency, June 2015; Bloomberg Business, 10/1/15]

Organizations Project Nations Can Build On Paris Agreement To Beat 2 Degree Celsius Target. The Paris agreement committed countries to addressing the “significant gap” between their current pledges and “aggregate emission pathways consistent with holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above preindustrial levels,” while also “pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above preindustrial levels.” The Climate Action Tracker found that the additional actions beyond Paris necessary to keep warming below 2 degrees Celsius are “technically and economically feasible.” And Climate Interactive, which noted that the agreement includes “the commitment to review national pledges every five years, starting in 2018,” determined that global warming could be limited to 1.8 degrees Celsius "[i]f nations offer deeper, earlier emissions cuts at that time and continue progress." [UNFCCC.int, 12/12/15; ClimateActionTracker.org, accessed 4/21/16; Climate Interactive, 12/14/15]

UNFCCC Exec. Secretary: Paris Agreement Will “Chart The Course Towards” 2 Degree Celsius Goal. Christiana Figueres, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), told reporters ahead of the agreement in Paris that it is not intended to “miraculously solve climate change” or single-handedly limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius, but instead is meant to “chart the course towards that long-term destination” :

“The idea is that the Paris agreement will put us not on an emissions trajectory for 2 degrees, but on an institutional trajectory that allows us to try to meet that goal,” Alex Hanafi, climate strategist at the Environmental Defense Fund, told Climate Central in February.

U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres agrees.

“It is a fundamental misinterpretation or misunderstanding of the complexity of what we're dealing with to even imagine that an agreement in Paris would in and of itself, at the turn of a dime, miraculously solve climate change,” she said in February. “What Paris does is to chart the course toward that long-term destination.”

Figueres also said last December that the U.N. knows that “the sum total of efforts (in Paris) will not be able to put us on the path for two degrees,” but said the world “will get there over time.” [ThinkProgress, 9/4/15]

Princeton Climate Scientist: “Not Too Late” To Reach 2 Degree Celsius Target. Michael Oppenheimer, a climate scientist at Princeton University, told The Huffington Post that "[i]t's not too late to make a two-degree target," adding that when countries begin to implement their emissions reductions, they may “find it easier and cheaper than they thought, and then maybe they will do more and more of it at an accelerating pace” :

“It's not too late to make a two-degree target, but it's getting late fast,” Oppenheimer said. “If we twiddle our thumbs for another 10 years, it will be almost impossible to make it without some Hail Mary pass with technology that may or may not work out.” (Scientists are investigating an assortment of extreme measures, such as sucking massive amounts of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.)

“The importance of these INDCs is for governments to have plans that they can take home [from Paris] and begin to implement,” Oppenheimer continued. “And, as they start, hopefully they'll find it easier and cheaper than they thought, and then maybe they will do more and more of it at an accelerating pace.” [The Huffington Post, 11/16/15]

MYTH: Agreement Goes Against Will Of Americans

  • The Heritage Foundation wrote in its blog that the Paris Agreement “lacks sustainable democratic legitimacy unless the Senate or Congress as a whole, representing the will of the American people, gives its consent to be bound.” [Heritage.org, 3/15/16]
  • In his op-ed in The Hill, Competitive Enterprise Institute fellow Marlo Lewis wrote: “Time is running out for congressional leaders to rescue America from the Paris Agreement.” [The Hill, 4/20/16]

FACT: The Public Strongly Supports Climate Action

Polls: Strong Majority Of Americans Support International Climate Change Agreement. A New York Times/CBS News poll conducted shortly before the agreement was reached in December found that 66 percent of Americans think the United States should “join an international treaty requiring America to reduce emissions in an effort to fight global warming.” A poll conducted by Benenson Strategy Group for the Sierra Club and the Union of Concerned Scientists in March found that 72 percent of likely 2016 voters support President Obama “signing an international agreement committing all countries to address climate change by reducing their carbon emissions.” And a poll conducted by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication in September and October found that 71 percent of Americans said it was at least somewhat “important” for the world to reach an agreement on climate change in Paris, with 43 percent of respondents saying it was “very” or “extremely” important (percentage of respondents saying it was “important” are rounded up when added together):

[New York Times/CBS News, 11/30/15; Benenson Strategy Group, 3/25/15; Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, 11/25/15]

Polls Also Show Most Americans Support The EPA's Clean Power Plan, The Cornerstone Of America's Climate Commitment. In August, a bipartisan poll conducted for the League of Conservation Voters by Democratic pollster Hart Research Associates and Republican pollster Chesapeake Beach Consulting found that 60 percent of Americans support the Clean Power Plan. The poll's findings echo those from previous polls carried out by the University of Michigan (which found that 67 percent of Americans support the Clean Power Plan),Yale's Project for Climate Change Communication (which found 67 percent of Americans support the plan), Pew Research Center (which found 65 percent support the plan), and The Washington Post-ABC News (which found 70 percent of Americans think the government should reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants). [LCV.org, 8/13/15; University of Michigan, 1/19/15; Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, October 2014; Pew Research Center, 6/2/14; Washington Post-ABC News, 6/2/14]

Global Poll: Nearly Two-Thirds Of People Worldwide Said UN Negotiators Should Do “Whatever It Takes” To Limit Global Warming. The Guardian reported that the Worldwide Views on Climate and Energy consultation, which involved 10,000 citizens from 79 developed and developing countries, found that "[n]early two-thirds of people believe that negotiators at key UN climate talks in December should do 'whatever it takes' to limit global warming to a 2 [degrees Celsius] rise." The Guardian further noted that “78% [of participants] said they are 'very concerned' about the impacts of climate change,” and “89% said that climate change should be a national priority in their country” according to the poll, which is “believed to be the most comprehensive survey of global public attitudes to climate change ever conducted.” [The Guardian, 6/8/15]