On Saturday, April 22, University physics professor emeritus William Happer GS ’64 discussed the Paris Climate Agreement on CNN, comparing it to the 1938 Munich Agreement among Britain, France, and Nazi Germany.
The Munich Agreement was signed by United Kingdom Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and German Chancellor Adolf Hitler and was an attempt to appease Hitler and prevent further annexation of European lands.
Happer made the comments on CNN’s “New Day Weekend” when asked how he would advise U.S. President Donald J. Trump on how to move forward with the Paris Climate Agreement.
“To me, it’s very similar to the  Munich Agreement that Mr. [Neville] Chamberlain signed,” Happer said, in response to a question posed by news anchor Victor Blackwell. “It is an appropriate comparison because it was a treaty that was not going to do any good. This treaty [the Paris Climate Agreement] also will not do any good.”
Happer further clarified his comments in an interview with the ‘Prince,’ and explained that the Munich Agreement was supposed to calm the situation in Europe, but it ended up having little to no effect. Similarly, he explained that ExxonMobil and coal companies are supporting the Paris Climate Agreement because they think it will be a way to appease environmental groups.
“[The French and the British] thought it was a small price to pay since they thought they would have peace for a generation,” he said. “Exxon and the coal companies think they’re appeasing the green fanatics, and the same thing will happen that has happened with the Munich Accords: they will not appease them for long.”
Happer noted that another issue with the Paris Climate Agreement is that, while some argue that pulling out of the agreement would send a negative message to the other signatories, other countries have also reneged on treaties that the U.S. negotiated in good faith.
“We intend to live by what we agreed to do, and many other countries don’t,” he said.
In terms of practical considerations, Happer thought that the agreement wouldn’t have the “slightest impact on the climate,” and that it would “cause enormous hardships on the whole world,” especially for underprivileged people.
However, he explained that there are political considerations to take into account, such as whether pulling out of the agreement would weaken allies’ support for helping the United States solve the problem in North Korea. In addition, he called into question whether the United States should even follow the terms of the treaty, since it was never formally submitted to the U.S. Senate for ratification.