Creative Commons: David Everett Strickler

Trump is wrong on Paris in many different ways: here are just a few

June 2, 2017

Trump is wrong on Paris in many different ways: here are just a few

Immediately after President Donald Trump announced his decision to begin the process of removing the United States from the Paris Agreement, fact checkers began pointing out the many things he got wrong. The AP, Washington Post, New York Times, and many others published stories correcting inaccuracies. Here’s a sample of the biggest points Trump got wrong.

Trump opposes the agreement on the grounds that it’s a bad deal that’s unfair for the U.S.. This is false. The agreement is “bottom-up,” in that each country provides its own domestic policies- each country is only bound to its own laws. By undoing the Clean Power Plan and other regulations, Trump is already dismantling the U.S. commitment made in Paris. But Trump knows and admitted this, noting that the agreement is “non-binding” directly before calling it “draconian.”

More importantly, the agreement would not hurt job growth or the economy- the study Trump cited has been widely debunked for its out of date and unrealistic assumptions by counting only jobs lost, in a worst-case scenario, and not accounting for clean energy jobs created. But clean energy jobs are already booming. Solar jobs are growing 17 times faster than the overall economy and there are 1.2 million clean energy jobs in the states Trump won.

Trump also claimed the deal was unfair because it lets China “do whatever they want for 13 years.” This too is false in its meaning, because to meet its 2030 goal, China needs to build as much clean energy as the U.S. currently uses. To imply, as Trump does, that they don’t need to do anything until 2030 is to assume that they will build that much renewable capacity overnight. Obviously, that’s unrealistic. Trump also called out India making “its participation contingent on receiving billions and billions and billions of dollars in foreign aid” but in reality, both China and India are already ahead of schedule in meeting their 2030 goals.

In pointing to an MIT study and claiming the impact of the agreement on global temperatures would be negligible, Trump is pointing to an outdated report and taking it out of context in what the co-founder of the MIT program cited told the AP was “kind of a debate trick.” The reality is that even though it was meant as a starting point, the global commitments that make up the Paris agreement would reduce temperatures by more like 1°C, or 1.8°F- substantially more than the 0.2°C Trump mentioned.

Most importantly, Trump insisted that he’s open to renegotiating to get a better deal for the U.S.. This is not how it works- an agreement of nearly 200 countries isn’t sent back to the drawing board over a single nation’s objections. Foreign leaders immediately made this clear, as did a George W. Bush environmental advisor, who said that “There’s nothing left to negotiate in Paris. This is where folks don’t read the Paris Agreement. The Paris Agreement is now set for a generation.” But Trump likely already knows this, and is merely using the renegotiation line as cover- according to one of his own transition team members, who said that “no progress will ever be made.”

While that may be true in the sense of Trump’s negotiations, progress on climate will absolutely continue despite Trump (and perhaps to spite him.) Local action from cities, states and countries are ramping up to counter Trump’s pull-out, with a group of local leaders working together to replace the U.S.’s commitment with their own efforts on the city and state level.

The reports Trump relies on are outdated and debunked or taken out of context. His statements about fairness and renegotiation seem to imply that he does not understand the conditions of the deal at all. His decision to pull us out goes against the wishes of the majority of the U.S. business community, the majority of the American public and even the majority of constituents in states Trump won (and the ones he lost as well). Globally the reaction of world leaders and others has been consistently negative, with one exception: Vladimir Putin.


Philip Newell
Senior Creative Media Manager, Climate Nexus

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