Young opposes Paris climate agreement, Axne supports it

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Sept. 15 reported that Arctic sea ice had reached its second-lowest level on record. (Image courtesy of NOAA's Climate.gov)

The candidates for Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District seat are split on whether the United States should abide by the Paris Agreement on climate change. 

In an interview Friday, Republican former Congressman David Young said he opposes what he sees as a “voluntary” agreement rather than a treaty approved by Congress, in part because the United States would end up suffering financially for other countries’ emissions.

David Young is a Republican running in Iowa’s 3rd congressional District. (Photo courtesy of the David Young campaign)

“We are leading in lowering our carbon footprint,” Young said. “We can show and lead the world by doing this.”

Young lost his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives to Democrat Cindy Axne in a close contest in 2018. Axne faces Young in her reelection bid Nov. 3. 

U.S. net greenhouse gas emissions fell 13% from 2005-2017 while the economy grew 19%, the U.S. State Department reported

Young said the Paris pact basically made the United States pay for problems in China, Russia, India and other nations. “I did not agree with that treaty,” Young said.  

On her website, Axne notes that she co-sponsored legislation to create a National Climate Bank that would provide investments in green energy solutions that would reduce carbon emissions. She said she is “supporting re-entry by the United States” into the Paris pact. 

Axne also noted that she has co-sponsored legislation to increase funding for wind energy research. Iowa, one of the nation’s top producers of wind energy, sees the industry as a way to reduce carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants. 

Head shot of Cindy Axne
U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne is a Democrat who represents Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District.

President Donald Trump in June 2017 said the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris Agreement. He hoped to bring back coal production and to open Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration.

However, because of the way the agreement is framed, the earliest the U.S. could move to leave the 2015 agreement is Nov. 4 of this year — the day after the presidential election.

The agreement has been formally endorsed by 190 of the 197 nations, many of whom, including the United States, worked on specific goals for cutting carbon emissions. 

“The Paris Climate Accord is simply the latest example of Washington entering into an agreement that disadvantages the United States to the exclusive benefit of other countries, leaving American workers — who I love — and taxpayers to absorb the cost in terms of lost jobs, lower wages, shuttered factories, and vastly diminished economic production,” Trump said in 2017. 

China leads the world with 28% of carbon dioxide emissions that trap heat and worsen climate change, the Union of Concerned Scientists reported. The United States is next at 15%, India 7%, and Russia 5%. The rest of the world accounts for 21%.