Thursday afternoon, President Donald Trump ushered in the final season of the world by announcing that the U.S. will leave the Paris Climate Accord.
The musical selection that preceded Trump’s speech in the Rose Garden was “Summertime,” which is either a delightful nod to it being the first day of June, or a hint of the perpetual summertime that we will be engulfed in as Earth’s temperature increases past the point humans can survive but, whatever, potato/potahto, as they say.
Trump said a lot of things to justify this decision, hardly any of which made much gotdamn sense. To spare you the pain of hearing another Trump soundbite (or, dear God, reading the entire transcript), we highlighted and fact checked a few of the choice-est, Trump-iest portions.
On the wellbeing of American citizens:
In order to fulfill my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord...(APPLAUSE)... thank you. Thank you — but begin negotiations to reenter either the Paris accord or an — really entirely new transaction, on terms that are fair to the United States, its businesses, its workers, its people, its taxpayers.
So we’re getting out, 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. And if we can’t, that’s fine. As president, I can put no other consideration before the wellbeing of American citizens.
Considering the agreement is non-binding and every country can set its own goals, how in the world do you cut a fairer deal than one that already gives you complete control over your targets?
And about those U.S. citizens. Turns out, they’re pretty into the Paris Agreement:
On who you love:
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. Thus, as of today, the United States will cease all implementation of the non-binding Paris accord and the draconian financial and economic burdens the agreement imposes on our country.
“American workers, who I love” apparently doesn’t include workers in North Carolina. Trump denied the state, which is still reeling from the effects of Hurricane Matthew, 99% of the federal aid money it had requested.
That money would have gone to help fix the homes of American workers, support American workers (that is, farmers) who had lost livestock in the flooding, and provide mental health services for survivors of the flood (including American workers!).
Good thing there’s no link between global climate change and hurricanes.
On the world’s leader in environmental protection:
Not only does this deal subject our citizens to harsh economic restrictions, it fails to live up to our environmental ideals. As someone who cares deeply about the environment, which I do, I cannot in good conscious support a deal that punishes the United States, which is what it does. The world’s leader in environmental protection, while imposing no meaningful obligations on the world’s leading polluters.
We’re going to assume the “world leader in environmental protection” is the United States, the single greatest contributor to carbon emissions in world history and who currently stands second only to China in terms of emissions, despite the fact that China has roughly four times the U.S.’s population.
Sure would be great to impose meaningful obligations on the “world’s leading polluters” though.
On ‘Hey! What about China??’:
For example, under the agreement, China will be able to increase these emissions by a staggering number of years, 13. They can do whatever they want for 13 years. Not us.
India makes its participation contingent on receiving billions and billions and billions of dollars in foreign aid from developed countries. There are many other examples. But the bottom line is that the Paris Accord is very unfair at the highest level to the United States.
Yeah, uhmm, those two countries are actually exceeding their Paris climate pledges to cut emissions. China is actually aiming to slash emissions by 60 to 65% per unit of GDP compared with its 2005 levels, and India by 33 to 35%. Both countries are investing heavily in renewable energy.
India, like other developing countries, does request foreign aid in meeting its goals. But it’s worth noting that these countries are likely to disproportionately suffer the effects of climate change—which the U.S. has played an extremely heavy hand in helping to create.
And again, technically, any country can do “whatever they want” for however many years they want to because, as Trump himself mentioned earlier in his speech, the agreement is non-binding.
On the unicorn we call “clean coal”:
Further, while the current agreement effectively blocks the development of clean coal in America, which it does. And the mines are starting to open up, having a big opening in two weeks, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, so many places. A big opening of a brand, new mine. It’s unheard of. For many, many years that hasn’t happened. They asked me if I’d go. I’m going to try.
But seriously, what about China?:
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. Even Europe is allowed to continue construction of coal plants.
In short, 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. This agreement is less about the climate and more about other countries gaining a financial advantage over the United States.
Trump’s operating economic principles can be roughly reduced to a simple axiom: When in doubt, blame the Chinese or the Mexicans. But here’s the thing: China is actually cutting 500,000 coal jobs.
On degrees of change:
Even if the Paris Agreement were implemented in full, with total compliance from all nations it is estimated it would only produce a two tenths of one degree - think of that, this much - Celsius reduction in global temperature by the year 2100.
Tiny - tiny amount. In fact, 14 days of carbon emissions from China alone would wipe out the gains from America and this is an incredible statistic - would totally wipe out the gains from America’s expected reductions in the year 2030.
Ah! An attempt at actual science! Aided by Trump squinting his face and letting you know it’s just this much👌🏻.
According to the MIT research Trump was drawing from, though, the reduction is estimated to be between 0.6 degree and 1.1 degree Celsius. This is arguably still negligible in terms of reversing climate change, but consider what John Reilly, who co-directs the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change (which produced the study) told Reuters:
“If we don’t do anything, we might shoot over 5 degrees or more and that would be catastrophic.”
He also disagrees with Trump’s assessment that a 0.2 degree reduction is inconsequential or not worth the effort—an assessment he probably could have told the president himself, had anyone in the White House actually reached out to the researchers to explain the study.
Reilly says they did not.
On pipe(line) dreams:
We’ll be the cleanest. We’re going to have the cleanest air. We’re going to have the cleanest water. We will be environmentally friendly but we’re not going to put our businesses out of work, we’re not going to lose our jobs.
We’re going to grow. We’re going to grow rapidly.
Okay, this is straight basura, and nothing in Trump’s background supports that he has the capacity or desire to do this. As The Washington Post points out, the two environmental awards he won were both related to golf courses (or, in one instance, a golf course he tried to create, until environmental regulations and local resident shut that shit down).
In his 70 years of life, Trump built a wind farm once. To power his hotel.
His record against the environment runs much deeper in the past year alone. Remember when Trump gutted the Clean Water Act earlier this year? Or the fact that the Environmental Protection Agency stands to suffer the largest cuts under Trump’s budget proposal? Or the fact that he reversed the Obama administration’s decision on the Dakota Access Pipeline, which became fully operational this week.
Well, surely the states have this handled, right? After all, think of all the policy reform the Michigan legislature put in after what happened in Flint! (Hint: One thing. They literally did exactly one thing.)
On last straws:
At what point does America get demeaned? At what point do they start laughing at us as a country?
Girl, that was November 9, 2016. Try to keep up.
We want fair treatment for its citizens and we want fair treatment for our taxpayers. We don’t want other leaders and other countries laughing at us anymore, and they won’t be. They won’t be.
I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.
Fun Pittsburgh fact! Pittsburgh voted for Hillary Clinton last year.
Also, the mayor of Pittsburgh would kindly like Trump to keep his city’s name out his mouth.