That is what our congresswoman, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, said in a tweet on December 12, responding to John Kerry’s own post about plans to re-join nearly every other country in the world in committing to the goals of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. In explanation she offered: “Rejoining the #ParisAgreement will hurt our global competitive edge as we rebuild from the economic crisis caused by COVID shutdowns. To win the future, would be smart for America to stay out & build on free-market climate solutions to reduce emissions + create jobs.”
Though oft repeated by those who resist addressing the climate crisis, this comment reveals the congresswoman’s fundamental ignorance of the facts, and on two levels. First, McMorris Rodgers seems to be ignorant of the fact that that the Paris Agreement is intentionally designed to be neutral as to how signatories achieve their climate pollution reductions. Each signatory country chooses the approach that is right for them, whether “free-market,” regulatory, or something else entirely. That the congresswoman thinks the Paris Agreement is opposed to market-based approaches is simply false.
Second, Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers seems also to be ignorant of the fact that the Trump administration’s own 2018 National Climate Assessment concluded that the economic cost of inaction will be far greater than taking steps now to address the crisis: “With continued growth in emissions at historic rates, annual losses in some economic sectors are projected to reach hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century—more than the current gross domestic product (GDP) of many U.S. states.” Congresswoman, I implore you to educate yourself before making dangerously uninformed comments. As Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote in 1983, “First, get your facts straight. Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”
Brian G. Henning, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy and Environmental Studies,