There was much gnashing of teeth over the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement. That turned out to be nothing but the usual virtue signaling, as the agreement has since fallen apart, having turned out to be nothing but a stickup of rich nations by poor nations. Shockingly, the Western democracies weren’t actually interested in paying up.
Meanwhile–one might ask–what has been happening in the physical world with regard to CO2 emissions? Personally, I doubt that CO2, at the levels we are talking about, has any material effect on the world’s climate. But since reducing atmospheric CO2 is the sole purpose of the Paris agreement and its predecessors, it is relevant to check on what is actually happening.
This chart shows the countries that reduced their CO2 emissions the most in 2017, and also those whose CO2 emissions have increased the most. The United States, under President Trump, shows the largest reduction. Click to enlarge:
It is no surprise that India’s and China’s rising CO2 emissions are the biggest issue, if you think rising emissions are a problem. But note that the EU’s CO2 emissions also rose significantly in 2017, at the same time that EU leaders were bashing President Trump for withdrawing from the Paris accord.
What is going on here? American emissions are declining due to increased reliance on natural gas as a result of fracking, along with incremental improvements in energy efficiency. EU emissions are rising, I think, because Western European countries pursued a misguided “green energy” strategy, placing ever-greater reliance on intermittent, inefficient, unreliable wind and solar energy. The abject failure of this approach is reflected in their emissions data.
When it comes to energy, the European Union can learn a lot from the Trump administration.