Like many other people I am upset that President Trump has decided to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord. It’s not that Paris solves the global warming problem but it is a major step in the right direction. We’re the biggest contributor of carbon emissions so it is our responsibility to lead in reducing them.
Here are some other major issues that need leadership:
Trade. The Trans-Pacific Partnership would have been a big win for the U.S. But it is with China, responsible for two-thirds of our trade deficit, that we need a major rebalance.
NATO. Mr. Trump has withdrawn his campaign statement that NATO is “obsolete.” His criticism of NATO could turn out to be useful if it leads to an increase in NATO defense spending.
Faster Economic Growth. Economic strength is the backbone of our influence in world affairs. Lower corporate tax rates will encourage our multinational companies to bring their profits back home for reinvestment in the U.S. Administration efforts already under way to deregulate various aspects of the U.S. economy should soon lead to faster growth.
U.S. Budget. Mr. Trump has proposed to balance the U.S. budget within ten years which is hugely important. Unfortunately many of his specific proposals on spending and growth are not realistic.
Infrastructure Spending. This is an excellent idea if it is paid for directly and does not add to the federal deficit. Apparently Mr. Trump will soon announce a plan for private industry, cities and states to take the lead in new infrastructure spending with possible contributions from the federal government.
Conclusion. Although Paris is a disappointment, Mr. Trump will have many opportunities to redeem himself.
Spring in the U.S. is coming sooner each year on average.
The three biggest carbon emitters in the world are China, the U.S. and India in that order. But what is also true, and not sufficiently well appreciated, is that carbon emissions in the U.S. are dropping while they are still increasing in China and India:
In the 2015 Paris climate agreement, China pledged that it would start reducing carbon emissions by 2030 but, in the meantime, is still continuing to open coal burning power plants.
In the U.S. carbon emissions have been steadily decreasing since 2000 (see chart).
In India the economy is growing at 7% per year and 240 million people still lack electric power. This means that carbon emissions from coal burning are likely to double in the years ahead.
Coal use in the U.S. will continue to drop with or without enforcement of the Obama era Clean Power Plan because natural gas is now so plentiful and so much less expensive than coal. The best way for the U.S. to continue showing leadership in combatting global warming is for it to adopt a revenue-neutral carbon tax. This would let the market sort out which type of energy is the cleanest and most efficient in meeting our country’s growing energy needs. In fact a carbon tax might even be beneficial for the coal industry by creating a strong incentive to develop carbon capture and storage technology. Conclusion. Most Americans now agree that global warming is real and that this presents a huge threat to human civilization. It is likely that a revenue-neutral carbon tax will be adopted by our country in the near future.