Friday, June 02, 2017

Fact-checking Trump's speech on climate change

President Trump made some hard-to-swallow claims in his speech announcing the nation's withdrawal from the Paris accord on action against climate change, reports Dino Grandoni of The Washington Post: "Some of this made sense -- some coal jobs, for example, will indeed be saved by eliminating the Clean Power Plan, one of President Obama's main efforts at meeting the Paris commitment. But many of the other reasons Trump gave for withdrawing seemed at their best strained,and at their worst unfounded."

First, the agreement "was designed to have the plasticity Trump seemed to be seeking by talking about some kind of renegotiation," Grandoni writes. It "did not legally bindnations to emissions targets. The only thing keeping a nation in check was pressure from its international peers. Under the agreement, the United States could miss an emissions goal and face no penalty. It could reset that goal, too, with no formal consequence. It's unclear what other concessions the United States could gain from a renegotiation," and Germany, France and Italy have said they're not interested in one.

Trump claimed that even if all nations met their goals under the agreement, which it would produce only a 0.2-degree Celsius reduction in global temperature by 2100. While those goals are not enough to reach the accord's overall goal of limiting global warming to 2 degrees C, they "would reduce the planet’s warming by the year 2100 down from 4.2 degrees Celsius (7.6 degrees Fahrenheit) to 3.3 degrees Celsius (5.9 degrees Fahrenheit), or nearly a full degree Celsius," Chris Mooney of of the Post writes, citing research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Trump said, "I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris." Grandoni finds that line confusing: "It was delegates of the nearly 200 nations of the world, not the approximately 2 million people of Paris, who negotiated the climate accord. Paris was simply the city that hosted the talks after which, in the long tradition of diplomatic nomenclature, the agreement was named. Nonetheless, the line is likely to resonate with Trump voters who feel they have been left out of the economic recovery and who do not relate to international diplomats who they don't believe are working in their best interest. One other note: Hillary Clinton actually won Allegheny County, Pa., where Pittsburgh is located, by 16 points."

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