A Free-Market Energy Blog

Taylor/Niskanen Wanted the Paris Climate Accord (really)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- June 5, 2018

“… the biggest earthquake is the Donald Trump factor. If things play out the way they look like they will, he is going to get the nomination, and he is going to be utterly decimated in November…. He will not just be defeated, he will be slaughtered.”

– Jerry Taylor, February 23, 2016 [1]

“What we stand to lose [from the Paris withdrawal] is a seat at the table and trust in America’s ability to deal with big problems….  To see it undone for the purpose of satisfying craven nationalism is distressing…. The climate, national security, and economic implications of turning our backs on the world are hard to fathom, but they may run very deep.”

– Niskanen Center, May 31, 2017 (below)

The bizarre makeover of Jerry Taylor from trenchant foe of climate alarmism/forced energy transformation to Big Government bodyguard has been told elsewhere. This post simply reprints what the Niskanen Center posted on the eve of President Trump’s pro-consumer, pro-taxpayer, pro-American, pro-world withdrawal from the Paris climate accord.

What a difference a year makes! The Niskanen Center’s rental of its “libertarian” bona fides for climate alamism/activism has all but backfired. Jerry Taylor finds himself isolated from the mainstream of conservative/libertarian thought, a predicament made worse by his exaggerated, inflammatory statements along the way (a subject for another post).


The Niskanen Center’s 400-word missive of May 31, 2017, is parsed and criticized below:

Reports that the Trump Administration is readying to pull out of the Paris Agreement are disappointing, but unsurprising.

Disappointing? An agreement that the father of the climate alarm, James Hansen, called “bullshit” because it has no climate effect? An agreement that not only permits but also invites rent-seeking, free-riding, cronyism, and global wealth distribution? How was/is the Paris agreement anything that a libertarian or conservative could even remotely support? (And does this support extend to the Kyoto Protocol too?)

The Administration has demonstrated little interest in addressing climate change and great interest in achieving its campaign promises.

Both are very good things, not bad. Climate change is inherent and not a problem to be solved by government. Trump got elected to reverse Obama policies, including on energy/climate.

As such, while pulling out of the Paris Agreement is indeed fulfilling a promise, it will be a purely symbolic victory.

Symbolic? Hardly! The very shaky accord was symbolic to begin with, and now its symbolism was exposed in bright lights and with core argumentation. “Since Mr Trump walked out,” one journalist recently noted, “it has been fascinating to watch the decline of media interest in ‘saving the planet’.”

Pulling out of the Agreement will have none of its intended effects. It will not unleash an economic renaissance for coal, or make climate change any less of a pressing issue at home.

Wrong. The US/global boom is underway with all three fossil fuels: natural gas, coal, and oil. (US production, world consumption.) Trump’s executive orders are unleashing market forces. Us climate/energy realists are on the offensive for the first time since the climate issue began in 1988.

Neither the laws of physics or economics can be wiped away by executive order.

That’s our argument, not yours. It is postmodernist for you to say it. Dense mineral energies are winning the day, and the climate alarm (via high-sensitivity estimates of the enhanced greenhouse effect) continues to be scaled back in the peer-reviewed literature.

Climate change will continue to march on, just as basic economics are increasingly pushing markets toward low-carbon energy. Meanwhile, the Clean Air Act still demands that the U.S. government regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. President Trump and his administration can slow-walk that process, but not reverse it entirely.

The climate “march” is all imaging and politics–and fueled by money and power. It is unrealistic otherwise. What a colossal waste of resources, part of which is the Left funding propping up the (fake) Niskanen Center.

What we stand to lose, however, is a seat at the table and trust in America’s ability to deal with big problems. Despite its shortcomings, the Paris Agreement was a positive symbol of international cooperation. To see it undone for the purpose of satisfying craven nationalism is distressing, and an overt abdication of our responsibility. American credibility on climate will be sacrificed, and we will forfeit our ability to spur other countries toward climate action. The climate, national security, and economic implications of turning our backs on the world are hard to fathom, but they may run very deep.

Oh if the old Jerry Taylor could hear this and give the fake Taylor an intellectual spanking. Where is your math that Paris is not discriminatory to the US or passes any sort of a cost/benefit analysis in the years and decades to come?

For those of us concerned about climate action, this decision shows that success hinges on capturing Republican support. The President didn’t make this decision in a vacuum. There were formidable voices opposing the exit, from business and political leaders, to Republicans in Congress, to members of the Administration. But there were equally strong voices calling for the pull-out as well (including the 22 Senators whose letter appears to have tipped the balance in these last days). All advocates of climate action should redouble their efforts to make the case for smart and effective policies that conservatives and Republicans can back. Without them, we’ll get nowhere.

Republicans and libertarians are nowhere near climate alarmism/forced energy transformation. The Niskanen Center has been bought off. Josiah Neeley and R Street have been bought off. The case for climate alarmism, never strong, has noticeably weakened since the time that these two institutions went for the Left money.


The fake conservative/libertarian lobby for climate alarm/forced energy transformation is exposed. Hillary was sure to win, leaving the libertarians and conservatives with a Hobbesian choice between carbon taxes, cap-and-trade, or command-and-control.

But Trump won. The tide went out. And Taylor (and Neeley) find themselves naked on the Malthusian/far Left/Big government sand bar.

It is time the masks come off at the Niskanen Center and R Street. Libertarians and conservatives reject the idea of carbon dioxide emissions as a global market failure. And they reject government as the solution.

Malthusianism and freedom simply do not mix in theory or action.


[1] Energy Future Coalition Steering Committee Meeting Notes, February 23, 2016. These notes will be posted at MasterResource next week.

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