Donald Trump has made some pretty bold claims in his short time serving as our president, but what are charismatic statements without truth- propaganda perhaps? The Politifact website shows, the majority of Trump’s statements are False, a recorded 33% of 445 fact checked statements (Politifact). The website ranks statements, assessing their validity in terms of : true statements, mostly true, half true, mostly false, false and “pants on fire.” In fact only 5% of those statements have proven to be completely truthful. This sets quite the precedent for his claims about international policies such as the Paris Agreement, which he has decided the United States will drop out of, because of his concerns that it is an unfair agreement.
In a letter signed by Donald Trump, he stated reasons for the withdraw from the Paris Agreement, stating that “…the agreement allows countries such as China to increase their emissions for years to come” (Trump). This statement by Trump is false, based on no legitimate information from the agreement, but perhaps by his lack of understanding of the text. The language used in the Paris Agreement, arguably makes it the most lenient agreement to come from these UNFCCC conferences. The only mandatory thing countries must do, is consistently report their progress in trying to lower emissions, but the actual reduction of emissions is not enforceable .
The Paris Agreement states, “Developed country Parties should continue taking the lead by undertaking economy- wide absolute emission reduction targets.” This point within Article IV of the agreement is merely a suggestion. Developed countries have no legal obligation to lower their emissions, but this was not an exception given only to China. If the United States had ratified this, we could also go against our promises of lowering emissions as well- although this defeats the purpose of signing the agreement.
Perhaps Trump was twisting the words within the agreement, which explain that to lower the emissions countries must first reach their peak emissions . It seems this was put in the agreement mostly to maintain equity among developed and developing countries. Developing countries, that have had a fraction of the contribution of GHGs as developed countries, like the United States, should have the right to continue to develop to meet the basic needs of providing electricity to households. This is not an unfair attribute of the agreement, we in the United States are consuming in excess and must not hold developing countries to the same standards of emission reductions when historically they have contributed so little.
The nature of the agreement can be complicated to understand, filled with words like “should” and “shall” maybe we can empathize with Trumps denial of the facts of the agreement, that give no exclusive benefits to China. While trajectories of China’s emissions show their peak emissions to be reached no later than 2030, they have ratified the agreement and are making moves towards serious climate action. Their Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) targets would give them a 70% reduction of emissions (Climate Action Tracker).
China’s goals for mitigating climate change also include moving away from coal, something Trump has not yet accepted as a step in the right direction for the United States, as he has promised to save the industry. While China attempts to lower emissions, and move away from dirty energy in coal, Trump promises to put miners back to work (Wolfgang).
Trumps decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, is not an informed one. He makes wild claims about perceived preferential treatment given to China through the agreement and ignores the progress that China is making towards climate action, and will continue to make with pledged goals and emission predictions. The time to act on climate change is now, and the United States should be setting an example in climate action, as we have the means to reduce our emissions and develop new technology to move to a greener world. While China hopes to propel forward, the United States will only fall behind if the Trump administration fails to act on this pressing issue.
Climate Action Tracker notes emissions over time within the United States, predictions do not include Trumps decision to withdraw from the Paris agreement, as it is not yet effective. The US ranking for climate action regardless, is “Inadequate.”
Climate Action Tracker notes emissions over time within China, and gives it a ranking level of Medium.
“Donald Trump’s file.” Politifact, Tampa Bay Times, Accessed 8 Sept. 2017.
PolitiFact, and Donald Trump. “Donald Trump wrong on Paris accord, China and coal plants.” Politifact, Tampa Bay Times, 5 June 2017, Accessed 8 Sept. 2017.
Climate Action Tracker. “China.” CLIMATE ACTION TRACKER, 15 May 2017, Accessed 8 Sept. 2017.
Wolfgang, Ben. “Trump’s promise to revive coal industry will be tough to keep after Obama assault.” The Washington Times, The Washington Times, 29 Dec. 2016, Accessed 8 Sept. 2017.