As I sat there listening to someone, who clearly did not have a handle on what he was talking about, try to justify America leaving the Paris Climate Agreement, all of my bullshit detectors were going off at once. While I had a pretty good idea that this was one of the most BS filled political speeches of my lifetime, I lacked the full knowledge of the subject to really appreciate the torrent of nonsense that was pouring from President Trump's mouth.
Thankfully we have organizations like the Washington Post and writers like Dino Grandoni to sort through this mountain of lies. Here are a couple of mistruths pointed out in Grandoni's piece, along with a couple of observations of my own:
- The Paris agreement is not legally binding when it comes to a country's emissions, not only could the US go over their emissions goal, we could have negotiated the number at any point.
- Trump kept mentioning how he would like to renegotiate the deal, but other countries have zero interest in doing so, this is esssentially an empty promise.
- China is not allowed to do whatever they want as a member of the agreement, it is true that wording in the agreement points to China reaching their emissions peak by 2030, but - as I've already said - this is not a legally binding document, and China was given extra runway to spur economic growth. This January China announced the cancellation of over 100 coal-fired power plants. It should also be noted that China plans on investing $361 billion in renewable energy by the year 2020.
- Trump made a lot of mentions to coal workers in his speech, but I think now is a good time to remind everyone via this Financial Times article that there are currently about 776,000 people working in either solar or wind power industries compared to 160,000 people working in the coal industry.
- In his speak trump mentioned that he was voted the president of Pittsburgh, not Paris. This statement is hilarious for a couple of reasons. Not only did Hillary Clinton receive 80% of vote in Pittsburgh, but shortly after the speech Pittsburgh mayor tweeted that "Pittsburgh stands with the world & will follow Paris Agreement."
- The big argument that the president made over-and-over in his speech was that he was looking out for American jobs by pulling us out of the agreement, and yet a slew cities, states, and a number of the biggest companies in the country have already broken with Trump's decision to leave.
There are a lot of reasons why Trump may have pulled out of the Paris accords. He may be trying to reinforce the working class base that he was able to flip from Obama voters to Trump voters in the last election. Perhaps he was so embarrassed by his exchanges with President Macron, and Chancellor Merkel that he decided to use this exit as some kind of twisted way to wrest power away from them. There's a good argument you could make that he is just getting really bad advice from the people around him, and acting with almost zero knowledge of the subject.
Whatever Trump's true motives are for leaving the Paris agreement, we did not hear them yesterday. Instead we got a 25-minute long speech that was incoherent and full of lies. This is coming from a man who has tweeted about climate change being a hoax in the past. None of his spox will go on the record about his current views on the subject. For the leader of the both the worlds largest economy and largest polluter to be a climate change denier makes him the most dangerous person on Earth.