President Donald Trump announced plans to withdraw from the Paris climate accord on Thursday with a White House speech that made the historic agreement sound like a trade deal, which it isn’t. But that was just one of the thorns in his Rose Garden statement.
The nonbinding pact to reduce planet-warming emissions, approved by every country but Syria and Nicaragua, commits its signatories to slashing greenhouse gas outputs and coming back to the negotiating table every five years to seek more ambitious goals with the hope of staving off the most catastrophic effects of global warming.
Trump did not discuss climate science nor the dire consensus among nearly all peer-reviewed climatologists that emissions from burning fossil fuels, industrial farming and deforestation have put the planet on course to warm beyond the point where the climate will be irreversibly changed by the end of the century.
By that sheer omission alone, the speech was misleading. Here are nine more things that Trump got wrong:
1. “The cost to the economy at this time would be close to $3 trillion in lost GDP.”
That estimate came from a report that “does not take into account potential benefits from avoided emissions.” The study was paid for by the American Council for Capital Formation and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ― two groups that represent major polluters and have long lobbied against climate policies. The assessment outlined in the report is based on what the Natural Resources Defense Council in March described as “a fictional scenario that does not reflect any current proposals or realistic plans to achieve our climate goals.”
“By design, the Chamber study intentionally imposes the most stringent greenhouse gas regulations on the sectors that would face the highest costs per ton of GHG reduction,” Kevin Steinberger and Amanda Levin, experts at the NRDC, wrote in a blog post. “This scenario greatly exaggerates the likely costs of any future program to achieve the economy-wide reductions set forth in the Paris Agreement, because any real program to meet those goals would be designed with cost-saving flexibility the Chamber deliberately left out.”
2. “Exiting the agreement protects the United States from future intrusions on the United States’ sovereignty and massive future legal liability. Believe me, we have massive legal liability if we stay in.”
The Paris Agreement is legally nonbinding, meaning the United States was not obligated to meet the 26 percent to 28 percent commitment made in 2015. Despite arguments from the White House to the contrary, legal experts said the U.S. could have negotiated a lower emissions target while remaining in the voluntary agreement.
3. China “can do whatever they want for 13 years. Not us.”
The implication here is that China plans to continue increasing its emissions. But a study last year found that Chinese emission have peaked and were forecast to fall by 1 percent in 2017. The accuracy of official Chinese data is often called into question, with good reason. But a handful of independent studies over the past three years have corroborated the decline in Chinese emissions.
Backing this up, China has aggressively moved to invest in renewable energy over…