Judges considering arguments against the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan must recognize that the rules will have no measurable impact on climate.
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy has admitted this but says that the CPP is still worthwhile because it is "positioning the U.S. for leadership in an international discussion." This would make sense if we knew a climate crisis was imminent and developing nations would follow our lead.
But we don't know the future of climate and developing countries, the source of most of the world's carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, have indicated that they will not follow us. On July 18, President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines even said about the Paris climate agreement, "You are trying to stymie [our growth] with an agreement ... That's stupid. I will not honor that."
The foundation of the Paris Agreement gives an out clause for developing nations, stating, "Economic and social development and poverty eradication are the first and overriding priorities of the developing country Parties."
Actions to significantly reduce CO2 emissions would entail cutting back on the use of coal. As coal is the least expensive source of electricity in most of the world, reducing emissions by restricting coal use would interfere with development priorities. So developing countries won't do it.
America's sacrifice will be for nothing.
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
(Editor's note: Harris is executive director of International Climate Science Coalition.)