Commentary

Some actual facts to know about Trump’s climate policy debacle

The good people at Think Progress have a healthy dose of truth and facts for us this morning that are worth absorbing in light of the prevaricator-in-chief’s announcement yesterday that he will be doing his best to hasten the demise of life on Earth as we know it.

From Samantha Page’s story, “Trump’s argument for withdrawing from Paris agreement contains multi-trillion dollar math error”:

“Trump claimed that U.S. commitments under the Paris accord would cost the country’s GDP $3 trillion, but the report he took that estimate from ‘does not take into account potential benefits from avoided emissions.’

In other words: The study did not account for any benefits of participating in a global plan to avoid the worst effects of climate change. It is a report on climate mitigation that ignores climate change. The report also does not consider the economic benefits to renewable energy industries, nor does it consider the health costs that are associated with fossil fuel pollution.”

And this is from Joe Ramm’s story, “Trump falsely claims Paris deal has a minimal impact on warming”:

“Trump claimed that the Paris climate deal would only reduce future warming in 2100 by a mere 0.2°C. White House talking points further assert that ‘according to researchers at MIT, if all member nations met their obligations, the impact on the climate would be negligible… less than .2 degrees Celsius in 2100.’

The Director of MIT’s System Dynamics Group, John Sterman, and his partner at Climate Interactive, Andrew Jones, quickly emailed ThinkProgress to explain, ‘We are not these researchers and this is not our finding.’

They point out that ‘our business as usual, reference scenario leads to expected warming by 2100 of 4.2°C. Full implementation of current Paris pledges plus all announced mid-century strategies would reduce expected warming by 2100 to 3.3°C, a difference of 0.9°C [1.6°F].’

The 0.2°C estimate used by Trump may be from another MIT group; the Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change did have such an estimate in early 2015, before all of the Paris pledges were in. But, their post-Paris 2016 analysis also concluded the impact of the full pledges was closer to 1°C.

In their analysis, Sterman and Jones ‘take all nations at their word that they will fully meet their national commitments. If nations increase their ambition and set future pledges, as is outlined in the agreement, then the positive impact would be even larger.’

This point is key. The Paris commitments not only help the globe avoid the worst-case scenario for total warming and related climate impacts, they keep the best-case scenario open. Indeed, the Paris pledges buy us another decade close to the 2°C (3.6°F) path.”

Of course, none of this should come as any surprise. If President Obama had been against the Paris agreements, Trump would have been for them. As the lead editorial in this morning’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer explains:

“The truth is, Donald Trump probably knows or understands very little about climate change or the Paris accord. He’s just trying to keep a campaign promise to people who probably don’t know much about it, either. Trump really needs to put away the club he uses to bash all things associated with President Obama, and proceed with positive initiatives of his own, if he has any.

Trump flirts with an almost isolationist stance on too many issues, reflecting the ‘America first’ theme of his shortsighted inaugural address. But the Paris Agreement was something years in the making, and represented a triumph of Obama’s diplomacy – to get so many nations to agree to such a policy was a monumental achievement.

Which is exactly why Donald Trump attacked it.”

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