Top climate economists make strong case for US to recommit to the Paris Agreement as November withdrawal date draws near
An Anglo-American group of top climate economics and policy experts have urged the world’s second largest emitter of greenhouse gases, the United States, to recommit to the Paris Agreement in order to reap significant net economic benefits for the country, its trading partners, and the world economy, in a policy brief published today (August 14th) by the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science and the Grantham Institute – Climate Change and the Environment at Imperial College London.
President Trump announced on 1 June 2017 that he intended to end the United States’ participation in the Paris Agreement, claiming that it economically disadvantaged the country. In November 2019, the US Government initiated withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, with completion due on 4 November 2020.
The policy brief states: “The long-term interests of the United States are best served by continuing to participate in the Paris Agreement. The arguments put forward by the Trump Administration to try to justify withdrawal are inaccurate and misleading. Essentially, the Trump Administration has ceded control over the future economic impacts of climate change on the United States to its trading partners and competitors.”
It recommends that if withdrawal is completed, the United States Government should re-join the Agreement at the earliest possible date and should support ambitious domestic and international policies on climate change.
The policy brief, which is jointly authored by experts in the United States and United Kingdom, clearly outlines the economic case for remaining part of the Paris Agreement. Its authors are Dr Alex Bowen, Professor Marshall Burke, Dr Charles Donovan, Professor Frances Moore, Professor Kenneth Gillingham, Professor Robert Stavins, Professor Gernot Wagner and Bob Ward.
The launch of the policy brief is accompanied by the publication of a report that critically analyses the Trump Administration’s arguments for withdrawal. It concludes that the decision to withdraw was “irrational”.
The policy brief cites several studies and government assessments that have shown that the benefits of climate change to the United States, such as longer growing seasons for crops in some parts of the country, are far outweighed by the overall damage it will cause to the lives and livelihoods of a growing number of Americans through sea level rise and increases in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, such as heatwaves, droughts and heavy rainfall.
The United States’ nationally determined contribution (NDC) to the Paris Agreement includes a pledge to reduce annual emissions of greenhouse gases by 26–28 per cent by 2025 compared with 2005, which the policy brief suggests could still be achieved if the United States improves its domestic climate policy.
The Government has not published a full analysis of the economic implications of implementing its NDC, but there have been assessments of some of the key measures which have identified the net benefits from domestic action on climate change in the United States, particularly when reductions in local air pollution from fossil fuels are taken into account.
The policy brief goes on to warn of the risk of diminished socio-economic and political influence by the United States on other countries if it withdraws from the Paris Agreement. It also suggests that it is in the interests of the US Government to acknowledge climate damages that occur outside the United States due to its emissions in order to persuade other nations to substantially reduce their own emissions, which are harming American lives and livelihoods.
The policy brief states: “The international isolation of the United States on climate change, with its absence from relevant discussions at G7 and G20 summits for example, could also create wider damage to its diplomatic relationships at a time when it is seeking support from other countries on issues such as trade and defence. And the lack of engagement by the federal government also adversely affects the reputation of businesses in the United States that could export zero-carbon goods and services around the world.”
There are likely to be other associated economic consequences for the United States if its government pursues a policy of relative inaction on climate change. Some countries, particularly the Member States of the European Union, are considering the possibility of introducing border tax adjustments on imports from countries that are failing to tackle emissions of greenhouse gases, and American goods and services could be subject to them.
The policy brief points out: “The Paris Agreement is driving an increase in demand for low-carbon goods and services around the world, creating new potential markets for American low-carbon exporters. Research shows that the spill-overs into the economy are greater from green innovation than from ‘brown’ innovation.”
Read the policy brief “The economic case for the United States to remain in the Paris Agreement on climate change” (see attached). The link will be live once the embargo has lifted.
Read “An analysis of the Trump Administration’s economic and policy arguments for withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Agreement”. The link will be live once the embargo has lifted.
For further information and for interview requests please contact Bob Ward at firstname.lastname@example.org or +44 (0) 7811 320346
Notes for editors
About The Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment
Established in 2008 at the London School of Economics and Political Science, the Institute brings together international expertise on economics, as well as finance, geography, the environment, international development and political economy to establish a world-leading centre for policy-relevant research, teaching and training in climate change and the environment. It is funded by the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment. www.lse.ac.uk/grantham
About The Grantham Institute – Climate Change and the Environment
Imperial College London is one of the world’s leading research-intensive universities, comprising the Faculties of Science, Engineering, Medicine and the Business School. The Grantham Institute at Imperial College, established in February 2007 through a generous donation from the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment, works across the College to drive research on climate change and the environment, and translate it into real world impact. www.imperial.ac.uk/grantham