Gary Yohe
Gary Yohe Gary Yohe, the Huffington Foundation Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies and Trustee for the Connecticut Chapter of the Nature Conservancy discusses the local impacts of climate change with the Connecticut Climate Task Force. © Andrew Benson/ The Nature Conservancy

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Honoring The Paris Climate Agreement

Yohe Rebuts Sen. Rand Paul’s Call to Withdraw from Paris Climate Agreement

Gary Yohe, the Huffington Foundation Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies and Trustee for the Connecticut Chapter of the Nature Conservancy, rebuts an op-ed on Fox News in which U.S. Senator Rand Paul argues for the United States to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. Writing on the site Climate FeedbackYohe explains that Paul’s opinion relies on the flawed claim that the agreement would do little to slow climate change and would cost American jobs.

Yohe breaks down Paul’s assertions regarding anticipated global warming—both with and without the agreement—as well as the Senator’s predictions that the agreement would cost the country 6.5 million in lost jobs and $3 trillion in lost GDP. Yohe contends that Paul relies only on analysis by economists who will produce numbers that support his view. Instead, Yohe points to the recent experience in both the U.S. as a whole and in California, which has a cap and trade program. Both have seen carbon emissions fall dramatically while unemployment has fallen and GDP growth has increased.  He also cites support from 17 major US corporations who have expressed their support for the Accord directly to the President.  “These simple economic observations contradict the Senator’s claims,” he writes.

Yohe goes on to explain why energy transformation on the scale envisioned by those who support the Paris Accord is economically feasible, and writes that renewable energy will be the growth sector of the first half of the century. For the U.S. to withdraw from the climate agreement “would reduce investment incentives in the United States. Leaving the Accord would thereby limit employment growth opportunities. It is here that the future employment of those displaced by the contraction of, for example, the coal industry, would otherwise be found.”

Finally, Yohe responds to the Senator’s reference to the Constitution by noting that: “Bureaucrats did not craft the Accord and bring it into force on November 4, 2016.  Nations did, and 195 signatories certainly hope that the United States keeps its word and continues to play a leading role in confronting the growing climate risks that threaten our common future.  The Constitution clearly calls, in its very first sentence, that the People of the United States be committed to “promot(ing) the general welfare” – to “provide for the common defense” by protecting ourselves and others by any possible means from unnecessary threats of harm from every source imaginable. 

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