September 22, 2014
The United Nations Climate Summit, which President Obama is attending today, is being marketed as an opportunity for global leaders to come together and craft the path forward on an internationally binding agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It is important to keep in mind, however, that leaders from many of the world’s largest economies will not be there to participate in the discussions.
Obama’s counterparts from Russia, India, China, Germany and Australia all announced that they would not be attending the summit. Together, these nations account for nearly 40 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, and China, the worldwide leader, makes up 25 percent.
Due to the absence of these leaders, it is evident that the global political attitude has turned its back on any effort to limit greenhouse gases. Clearly, government regulations limiting greenhouse gas emissions are de facto brakes on any economy. Those who dispute or doubt this simply need look to Australia for a compelling case study. That country’s carbon tax imposed a significant drag on its economy, and once Australia’s political leaders summoned the will to repeal the tax in July, job creation improved. Large developing nations like Russia, India and China understand this. They are on their way to becoming wealthy nations and have no interest in limiting their potential by curbing their greenhouse gas emissions.
Environmental activists charge that limiting economic growth and ceding some sovereignty to an international body are small prices to pay to avoid catastrophic global warming, but the science simply does not add up to what many of these activists claim. For nearly the last two decades, global surface temperatures have flat-lined, and even the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) admits this. Scientists have been left scratching their heads trying to explain how this has happened even as carbon dioxide concentrations have steadily increased; there are no definitive answers. It has only underscored how little we actually understand about climate science.
The president’s visit to New York today demonstrates that these developments have not dampened any political support for the cause here in Washington, and one man can be credited for this: Tom Steyer.
Steyer made billions making wise investments across the economy, and some of his biggest successes were in the oil and natural gas industry. Now, he’s trying to make a name for himself in political circles by giving away tens of millions of dollars to support political campaigns. His aim? To keep global warming at the top of the political priority list.
To date he’s made good on his word and is plowing millions into a handful of Senate races to keep Democrats in power.
But the American people are smarter than that. They agree with Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency administrators who have said that unilateral mandates to curb greenhouse gas emissions in the United States will do nothing to limit worldwide emissions The same conclusion is being made by Australia’s voters. The American people do not want global warming tax hikes. This explains why they consistently rank it at the bottom of their national priority list.
Instead, voters want their leaders to pursue policies that improve our economic opportunities and security in the world. With the economy continuing to sputter and instability rising in places like Ukraine and the Middle East, U.S. leadership is desperately needed to encourage peace and economic innovation that allow Americans to thrive and reach their full potential.
It is my dream that my grandchildren have all of the available opportunities necessary to succeed. But without robust, consistent economic growth in a peaceful world, this will never become a reality for them like it was for me.
A binding international agreement like the one Obama wants would put a drag on growth. Consequently, going at it alone would only demonstrate a lack of strength to our international economic competitors who will never sign up.
It is my hope that Obama will drop his counterproductive green dream that has already been lost and instead re-establish our nation’s rightful leadership position on the world scene, where we aggressively promote freedom, economic innovation and the defense of our homeland and allies.
Inhofe is Oklahoma’s senior senator, serving since 1994. He is the ranking member on the Armed Services Committee and also sits on the Environment and Public Works Committee.