US exit from Paris Accord: A fact-check on Trump's climate change theories

Topics Donald Trump

US President Donald Trump announces his decision that the United States will withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. Photo: Reuters
Back in 2012, business magnate Donald Trump (now the US President) had said the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese, to make US manufacturing non-competitive. His exasperation with the world was further aggravated when 195 countries united under the umbrella of the Paris Accord in 2015 to battle against global warming and climate change.

Trump's tirade against the pact continued even as he was elected the President of the US late last year. And this culminated into Trump leaving the world dumbstruck as he announced on Friday the United States' exit from the deal. During his speech, he said: "I am fighting every day for the great people of this country. Therefore, in order to fulfil my solemn duty to protect America and it's citizens, the US will withdraw from the Paris climate accord."

"But we will start to negotiate and we will see if we can make a deal that's fair. And, if we can, that's great. If we can't, that's fine," he added.

Many of his comments during his speech announcing the US' exit from the Paris Accord seemed way off facts and distanced from common understanding of the Accord and its impact on the US and the world.

Sample this: Trump said, "We don't want other leaders and other countries laughing at us anymore." The fact, however, is that it was on Friday that the world was ridiculing the United States -- for Trump's decision to exit the Paris Accord.

German media keeps it simple, so that even Donald will understand it.

"Earth to Trump": F*** you!" #ParisAgreeement #trumpclimate

— Farid Erkizia Bakht (@Liquid_Borders) June 2, 2017

This cartoon is relevant again. It's making the rounds again on twitter. #trumpclimate

— Michael de Adder (@deAdder) June 1, 2017


Meanwhile at the US embassy in Berlin today...#ParisAgreement #trumpclimate #greenpeace

— Jens (@tongotongoz) June 2, 2017

#Parisclimateagreement goes the way of the #EPA into the #Trump Dump. #climatechange #UniteBlue #TNTweeters #trumpclimate #trumpparis #Vote

— Brad Bannon (@BradBannon) May 31, 2017
A video that The New York Times ran on its website late on Friday evening unravelled many of Trump's observations as plain falsehood or unfounded belief. Here are some of the key takeaways: 

Trump: I cannot in good conscience support a deal that punishes the United States.

Fact: Trump's claim appears to be misleading. Under the Paris Climate agreement, 195 countries volunteered their own pledges to cut planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions. Barack Obama pledged to cut this pollution more than a quarter by 2025- but his pledge remains voluntary, not enforced.

Trump: Compliance with the terms of the Paris Accord could cost America as much as 2.7 million lost jobs by 2025.

Fact check: Trump was citing an industry-sponsored study that assumed the economy wouldn't benefit from energy-efficient innovations. Many business leaders say such innovations are already creating new markets and jobs-  while helping prevent natural disasters related to climate change.

Trump's decision was met with widespread condemnation by big businesses (that are a major source of employment in the US.)

Top CEOs tried to persuade Trump to stick with the Paris Climate Deal:

Dear President Trump

As some of the largest companies based or operating in the Unites States, we strongly urge you to keep the United States in the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Adobe, Apple, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Danfoss, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Morgan Stanley, etc.

Tesla Inc Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk also tweeted that his departure from Presidential councils. He said, "Climate change is real. Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world."

Trump: Even if the Paris agreement were implemented in full, it would only produce a two-tenths of one degree - think of that, this much Celsius reduction (0.4 degrees Fahrenheit) in global temperature by the year 2100.

Fact check: Trump said he was citing an M.I.T study. MIT researchers say he's wrong. If countries honour their pledges, the researchers say, it could slow global warming by 1.7 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Trump on coal: The agreement doesn't eliminate coal jobs. It just transfers those jobs out of America and the United States and ships them to foreign countries.

"Further, while the current agreement effectively blocks the development of clean coal in America,” Trump said, “China will be allowed to build hundreds of additional coal plants. So we can't build the plants but they can. According to this agreement, India will be allowed to double its coal production by 2020. Think of it. India can double their coal production. We're supposed to get rid of ours.”

Fact: Trump has already moved to lift many restrictions on coal - the voluntary Paris agreement doesn't stop that. The coal industry is in decline because of cheaper natural gas and renewable energies, and stricter pollution rules by Obama.

China is still building (advanced, cleaner) coal plants because, unlike the US, it does not have access to cheap, abundant natural gas, which has been the main driver of recent US carbon reductions. Nonetheless, the Chinese central government has cancelled hundreds of coal plants recently, the existing coal fleet is running at historically low rates, the government is committed to phasing coal out as fast as possible, and the country currently expects to reach its NDC target early. Fourth, India (which also won’t be “allowed” to do anything) is, in fact, projected to use more coal, but it is working at breakneck speed to transition. It has pledged to get 40 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2030, which will include building out 100 gigawatts of solar energy by 2022. India is set to pass Japan this year to become the world’s third-largest market for solar (after China and the US).

The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 6, 2012

Trump: We're going to have the cleanest air. We're going to have the cleanest water.

Fact: Yale University's Environmental Performance Index ranks the United States 43rd in air quality and 22nd in water sanitation among 180 countries. Trump has loosened rules and proposed massive budget cuts to environmental protection.

Trump: The US will cease all implementation.

According to NYT, the US won't fully exit the Paris agreement until November 4, 2020 - the day after the next presidential election.

You can watch the NYT video here:

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