GUNASEKARA: Liberal ‘Climate Mayors’ Are Proving Trump Right On Paris Climate Accord

Mandy Gunasekara Contributor
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While the United States is getting out of the Paris Climate Accord, some cities have decided to stay in. To date, more than 400 U.S. cities have committed to fulfill the Paris Climate Accord — despite the president’s announcement. This coalition got an international boost last week when New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a new “playbook” at a World Mayor’s Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.

In their quest to protest the president’s decision, they are actually proving him right.

The United States withdrew because the Paris Accord was simply a bad, ineffective deal. It came with billions of dollars of direct and indirect costs to American taxpayers and the economy, while producing no meaningful impact on the environment or climate. Its range of virtue-signaling policies are designed to make our reliable fossil-based energy more expensive — prohibitively so.

President Trump understood that embracing fossil energy would not only provide newfound economic opportunities for many Americans stuck in poverty, but also strengthen the nation’s environmental record. Supporting market innovations in lieu of command-and-control regulations has proved effective at producing a robust economy alongside a clean environment. Since the Paris exit announcement, the United States continues to lead the world in overall emissions reductions.

Yet some politicians will not let reality get in their way.

Resistance to Trump has become lucrative — to the point where over 400 mayors are building up their political stock instead of their local economies. The mayors of Los Angeles, Houston and Philadelphia formed a group called “Climate Mayors” in 2014. It admittedly took on a new tone and approach under the Trump administration. One of its key initiatives includes a commitment to “adopt, honor and uphold” the Paris Climate Accord. As a result, we now have numerous case studies of how Paris-induced policies raise costs, depress economic growth, and harm those most in need.

Los Angeles is a good place to start. It is home to the official headquarters of the Climate Mayors group, and Mayor Eric Garcetti is slated to take over as chair of the similarly aligned international coalition referred to as the C40. Homelessness has recently spiked there, growing 16 percent since last year. The city’s inability to deal with piles of rotting trash have led to a resurgence of medieval diseases. While these problems continue to build, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti stubbornly focuses on his campaign against climate change and commitment to the Paris Climate Accord. Referred to as the “sustainable city pLAn,” Garcetti’s program aims to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 by completely electrifying the city — only using energy from renewable sources, thereby creating a “fossil free zone.”

The problem is that embracing these Paris-aligned policies comes with a high cost. Electricity prices in California have increased by 24 percent as the state built out its renewable energy sources from 2011 to 2018. These high costs have also driven out businesses and manufacturers, which take the much-needed jobs with them. To add insult to injury, the state’s largest utility announced voluntary blackouts in 34 counties to combat the high risk of wildfire. Had the climate-savvy leadership invested billions of dollars into basic power line maintenance instead of green energy and electric vehicles, a million Californians would not be dealing with forced blackouts that is literally putting some in “life or death” situations — at least one death has been reported so far — and forcing others to call it quits.

While Garcetti’s constituents may not have jobs or homes, they will have access to really expensive electric buses, which have already proven unreliable. The city recently announced it will be spending $36 million to purchase 112 electric buses from Chinese-owned company BYD, despite ongoing mechanical problems and poor performance such as an inability to climb hills.

Purchasing these buses from China comes with a host of additional complications. While China is manufacturing clean energy buses for use in LA, its arcane manufacturing operations are contributing up to 25 percent the city’s air pollution on certain days. The Chinese-built batteries that power the electric buses contain large quantities of cobalt mined by children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, exacerbating efforts to curb this ongoing humanitarian crisis.

For all these costs, emissions in California actually went up while the country as a whole reduced them. Most would characterize these outcomes as total and complete failures, yet Garcetti has dubbed them “best practices” and shares them across the Climate Mayors and C40 networks. Cities adopting zero-emissions policies have seen increased electricity prices, power disruptions, lost jobs and negative impacts to local citizens from California to New York and even to Texas.

In their quest to fulfill the Paris Accord and force an arbitrary shift to unreliable, costly energy sources, the Climate Mayors network has shown the United States what our future would be, had the president worked to stay in the agreement.

What these politicians share — beyond their economically depressing climate policies — is the choice to feel good about the future, while ignoring the harm their policies are causing today. The rest of us? We’re on a path for an even stronger, cleaner and healthier future.

Mandy Gunasekara is the founder of the Energy 45 Fund and is a senior fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Life:Powered Project. She previously served as principal deputy assistant administrator in the Office of Air and Radiation in President Trump’s EPA and as a counsel to the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.