We reviewed a number of claims Trump made during his White House speech.
Trump: The Paris Agreement would result in “lost jobs, lower wages, shuttered factories and vastly diminished economic production.”
Trump cited a number of negative statistics about the predicted economic impact from the climate deal.
Take these statistics with a grain of salt. All of these statistics come from a March 2017 study, prepared by NERA Economic Consulting, that estimates the potential impact of hypothetical regulatory actions necessary to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. The study makes assumptions that gave several economics and environmental professors pause when reacting to the NERA study for ClimateFeedback.org.
The NERA model assumes certain hypothetical regulations, but one could easily model other actions with much lower costs, and it also ignores the benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, like avoiding the negative effects of climate change.
Additionally professors pointed out that the study assumes other countries don’t make emission reductions in line with the Paris Agreement therefore leading American companies to relocate, industries are static and don’t change to adapt to the regulations and that there would be no increase in clean electricity generation.
The NERA model provides useful information, but it is important for it to be taken in context of model results from other models and not cherry-picked as was done here.
Trump: “China will be allowed to build hundreds of additional coal plants.”
Under the Paris agreement, each country publicly declares how much it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and what it will do to get there. So in that sense, the agreement doesn’t allow or disallow specific actions, like building plants.
Regardless, China has actually taken steps to stop building coal plants. In January, China stopped construction of 103 new coal-fired plants. The move sidelined scores of projects where work had already begun and put 120 gigawatts of capacity on hold.
Between the effects of an economic slowdown and an effort to move toward less-polluting sources, China has cut its use of coal three years in a row.
China has promised that by 2030, it would reduce the carbon intensity of its economy by 60–65 percent below 2005 levels, and increase the share of non-fossil energy to around 20 percent.
Still, the Climate Action Tracker assessment comes with a warning.
Researchers said that China’s goals are “not ambitious enough to limit warming to below 2°C, let alone the 1.5°C limit in the Paris Agreement, unless other countries make much deeper reductions and comparably greater effort than China.”
Trump: “Even if the Paris Agreement were implemented, it is estimated it would only produce a two-tenths of one degree Celsius reduction in global temperature by the year 2100.”
Trump’s statement about the amount of temperature reduction expected under the treaty is broadly accurate but needs some additional context.
According to John Reilly, who co-directs the Joint Program on Science and Policy of Global Change at MIT, the Paris agreement would reduce global temperature by two-tenths of one degree Celsius compared to earlier climate treaties.
As the Paris Agreement was under negotiation, Reilly co-authored an MIT report that criticized the deal for not making steep enough cuts in emissions to reach the Paris agreement’s ambitious goal of capping this century’s temperature increases at 2 degrees Celsius.
However, Reilly said that tackling climate problems depends on taking a series of incremental steps to reduce carbon emissions, and noted that pulling out of the Paris agreement would require even bigger future reductions.
Trump: “At 1 percent growth, renewable sources of energy can meet some of our domestic demand. But at 3 or 4 percent growth, we need all forms of American energy.”
Trump has consistently argued that the United States economy can grow at 3 percent or 4 percent a year, but that’s not a realistic expectation.
While that level of growth was common between 1948 and 2005, it hasn’t happened since — and economists we checked with recently were skeptical that it could happen with any consistency in the near future.
Trump: “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.”
The Paris Agreement does not mention the word coal, nor does it do anything to put a global moratorium on coal.Each signatory has set its own goals and has to report on its progress.
A 2015 report by the Economic Times, a financial daily from India, discussed a plan of Coal India Limited, a state-owned coal mining company, to double its coal production by 2020.
The story goes gives the caveat that the doubling of production is subject to land acquisition and environment clearance, all of which is yet to happen.
India, in ratifying the agreement on October 2, 2016, said it would follow a path of low carbon commitment in tandem with its national laws and development agenda, including eradication of poverty. India also committed to reduce emissions 33 to 35 percent of 2005 levels by 2030.
What it means is that the agreement allows nations who signed the Paris Agreement to set their own reduction targets to help achieve the overall target of reducing the rise in global warming below 2 degree Celsius.
By Jon Greenberg