In addition to the impacts Trump suggested the Paris agreement would have on the US economy, he also suggested that participation would require the US to pay a significant sum to the Green Climate Fund that was set up by the accord.
“So we're going to be paying billions and billions and billions of dollars and we're already way ahead of anybody else. Many of the other countries haven't spent anything. And many of them will never pay one dime,” he said.
The US committed to contribute $3 billion to the fund. That number is indeed higher than any other country, so Trump's statement here isn't entirely wrong.
But the US is also responsible for approximately one third of the current carbon dioxide that has been emitted, which makes the fact that the country is pledging a larger sum of money a bit more logical. Plus, the US contribution is far from the largest per capita — Luxembourg pledged to pay $93.60 per capita, and Sweden pledged $60.54 per capita, compared to the US’ $9.30.
The US already gave $1 billion of its pledged amount. In his speech, Trump promised that withdrawing from the agreement would mean the US won’t put any more money into the fund.
Blackouts and brownouts
By adhering to the goals set in the Paris Accord, Trump said, “our country will be at grave risk of brownouts and blackouts.” The statement seems to imply that the US needs to use whatever energy sources it can (namely fossil fuels) to keep up with demand for electricity.
The root cause is when excess heat — both from heavy electrical loads and a heatwave itself — overburdens, melts, or otherwise damages equipment like electrical transformers and power lines.
Trump also downplayed the significance of rising global temperatures, which is likely to increase overall demand to power grids through increased use of air conditioning. His administration initially froze new energy efficiency standards from going into effect, which would have exacerbated demand, though later reversed course on that (after a coalition of US states sued the administration).
In his speech, Donald Trump suggested that remaining in the agreement would cost the US economy “close to $3 trillion in lost GDP and 6.5 million industrial jobs, while households would have 7,000 less income, and in many cases, much worse than that.”
Trump didn’t cite a source for that statistic, but he suggested in a speech on April 29 that the cost would be $2.5 trillion — and non-partisan website Factcheck.org looked into that claim.
Factcheck.org ran Heritage’s analysis by Roberton C. Williams III, a resource economist at the University of Maryland and a senior fellow at the economic analysis nonprofit Resources for the Future. Williams said the Heritage estimate was correct based on the methodology the foundation used.
But according to calculations done by Resources of the Future, the US could reach its Paris goals with a much lower carbon tax rate over less time (either a constant rate of $21.22 per year until 2025, or a rate that starts at $16.87 and increases by 3% each year in the same period). By those numbers, the US’ GDP would see a decrease between just under 0.10 percent and 0.35 percent per year from now until 2025.
Just a tiny temperature increase
Trump also suggested that the Paris agreement would only lead to a minuscule reduction in global temperature.
"Even if the Paris Agreement were implemented in full, with total compliance from all nations, it is estimated it would only produce a two tenths of one degree — think of that, this much — Celsius reduction in global temperature by the year 2100," he said. "Tiny, tiny amount."
Global temperature is going to rise — there is no scenario in which there will be an overall reduction. But let’s assume that Trump meant a reduction from the projections of temperature increases that would happen without the Paris agreement.
Under a “business as usual” scenario in which past trends continue, the expected temperature increase in 2100 for this scenario is 4.2 degrees C (7.6 degrees F). If all nations fully achieve their Paris pledges, however, the average global surface temperature in 2100 is expected to be 3.3 degrees. That means the accord would lead to a reduction of nine tenths of one degree, not two.
Nine tenths of a degree on a global scale is huge. Since the industrial revolution, average global temperatures have risen 0.99 degrees Celsius, according to NASA. That's not so far from .90, and we’re already seeing plenty of dramatic changes around the planet. Even a reduction of two tenths of a degree would not be “tiny” — it’d be 20% of the increase we’ve already seen.
Trump went on: "In fact," he said, "14 days of carbon emissions from China alone would wipe out the gains from America — and this is an incredible statistic — would totally wipe out the gains from America's expected reductions in the year 2030."
That claim also does not appear to be accurate. With the US abandoning its commitments, Climate Interactive calculates that by 2025, the country will emit 6.7 gigatons of CO2 per year instead of the 5.3 gigatons of CO2 per year that the US would have emitted under the agreement. That’s a difference of 1.4 gigatons annually.
Donald Trump suggested that US compliance with the Paris accord could "cost America as much as 2.7 million lost jobs by 2025, according to the National Economic Research Associates."
The report on which that claim is based has been widely criticized by environmental groups. As the World Resources Institute pointed out, the NERA study uses a scenario in which the US’ industrial sector is forced to reduce the country’s overall emissions by nearly 40% in 20 years. That calculation doesn’t take into account the role of other sectors in reducing emissions.
The WRIalso faults the NERA report for assuming a low rate of clean energy innovation. That rate was calculated by the Department of Energy as a minimal case that “may underestimate advances.” What’s more likely, the National Resources Defense Council suggests, is that the development of clean energy technologies will accelerate. Even since 2016 — the energy outlook the NERA report uses — solar costs have decreased by about 8%.