Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio mocked the Paris climate deal this week, calling the agreement an “unfunny joke.”
“This kind of unilateral disarmament in our economy is reckless, and it is hurting the American Dream,” Rubio told the audience.
Rubio expanded on his views of the Paris deal in a conversation with Fox News’ Sean Hannity.
“It’s all for show. I mean, the whole thing is for show. Number one, as you said, they’re not binding,” he said. “Number two, the administration has committed the United States to certain caps, but hasn’t told us how they’re going to do it, which obviously means they’re going to have more of these sort of regulations, at least that’s what they intend.”
Rubio’s criticism of the deal’s non-binding nature has been echoed by others, including Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK). The deal doesn’t include penalties for countries who don’t stick to their plans to reduce or plateau their emissions, but it does require countries to reconvene every five years to report on their progress and to come up with new commitments. The deal’s non-binding nature is in line with other international agreements, which tend to rely on countries’ desires to maintain their relationships with other countries rather than on the threat of legal penalties.
As far as the deal’s effect on the economy, the International Energy Agency estimates it would cost the world $16.5 trillion to hold global temperature rise to below 2°C. That sounds like a lot, but, as Bloomberg reports, the IEA also estimates that the world is already poised to spend $68 trillion on energy by 2040 — with or without a climate deal. And a report from World Resources Institute estimates that the Paris deal will result in a 0.7 percent hit to economic output in the United States in 2030.
“You don’t collapse an economy by switching to cleaner fuels,” said Karl Hausker, senior fellow at the World Resources Institute, told the Wall Street Journal. “Every time the business community has rung warnings bells, and frankly the economy keeps going.”
Rubio also criticized the idea of the United States sending aid to developing countries to help them adapt to and mitigate climate change. Secretary of State John Kerry announced during the talks that the U.S. would be committing $800 million a year in climate aid to developing countries, which are struggling to adapt to rising seas and increasingly unpredictable weather.
“Here’s the most outrageous part,” Rubio said on Fox News. “This is a deal that’s going to require the American taxpayer to send billions of dollars to developing countries. Well, China considers itself a developing country. Does that mean the American taxpayer is going to send billions to China to help them comply with the arrangement here?”
But Gwynne Taraska, senior policy adviser at the Center for American Progress, told ThinkProgress in an email that there is “absolutely no mandate in the Paris agreement for the U.S. to send climate finance to China.”
“The U.S. has a longstanding commitment to help developing countries transition to pathways of low-carbon and climate resilient growth,” she said. “One of the things that is notable about the Paris agreement is that it focuses climate assistance on the most vulnerable developing countries, such as the Least Developed Countries and the Small Island Developing States.”
Furthermore, Taraska said, the agreement “explicitly encourages developing countries to contribute climate finance, many of which either have the capacity to contribute or are already contributing to the global effort.” China itself has pledged to spend $3.1 billion on climate assistance for vulnerable countries.
Aside from Rubio, the only other Republican presidential candidate to comment on the deal is John Kasich, though that could change after Tuesday’s debate. All three Democratic candidates are supportive of the deal.