In what has become an increasingly rare win, a denier-for-hire has gotten an op-ed placed in a mainstream media outlet that isn’t owned by Rupert Murdoch. Paul “Chip” Knappenberger of the Koch-founded and funded Cato Institute writes in Newsweek that Obama made a promise in Paris that he can’t live up to.
Unsurprisingly, Chip’s argument is more smog than substance. His first point is that because of the stay on the Clean Power Plan (CPP), the US won’t meet its target to reduce emissions 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025. But, this assumes the Plan will never come into force, which few see as likely. And while the delay is unfortunate, 19 states are going ahead with compliance plans compared to 20 that are suspending action, and CPP doesn't call for full compliance until 2030 anyway. It’s not hard to figure out that Chip’s point about the US missing the 2025 target is moot. (In fact, a real expert addressed this very issue back in March.)
Chip’s second flimsy piece of evidence to suggest the US won’t meet its target is the recent news that methane emissions have increased over the past decade. Apparently Chip never got the news that last month the EPA proposed new regulations to address methane from oil and gas, so the policies that will reduce methane emissions and help the US meet its targets are already in motion.
His third argument references a State Department report that projects an increase in carbon sequestration from forests, naturally reducing the levels of emissions the US would need to slash to hit its target. He suggests the State Department is inflating that figure and that its projection of increased plant growth is too “optimistic.” This is an ironic criticism, given that this same point (more CO2 leads to more plant growth) is a staple of denial campaigns. In fact, it might be the first and longest lasting denier meme, spanning the ages from 1992’s coal industry funded “Greening of Planet Earth” video right through to the present day CO2 Coalition.
Chip presents an argument that’s already been debunked, another argument made moot by a recent policy proposal, and an argument that throws a longstanding denier argument under the bus. With those three misses making it clear that his animosity towards the Paris Agreement is unfounded, Chip’s beef is toast.
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