The political genius of President Trump’s speaking style is that there are so many falsehoods per minute that people’s eyes glaze over when they see the fact-checking. There’s so much to correct that it’s hard to keep track – and we’re left with just his false claims ringing in our ears.
So we decided to correct just three of the biggest untruths from his June 1 speech announcing America’s retreat from the Paris climate deal.
1. Yes, it’s about Pittsburgh – just in the opposite way
The president’s message is that by hobbling the booming clean energy economy of the 21st century, we’ll somehow find our way back to the old jobs that have been lost. It’s just not true.
Coal has been hurt by the marketplace, which prefers cleaner energy. Solar and wind have been creating jobs faster than almost any sector of the economy and there are now more than 194,000 Americans working just in the solar industry – nearly three times as many as work in coal. That’s because the government and private sector have invested and created smart incentives.
Living up to our Paris commitments would give energy innovators the policy predictability they need to move massive investments into the new low-carbon economy. Squandering that gives China and Europe a huge advantage in an economic race will only hurt American workers.
When has it ever worked to try to revive old technologies to create jobs? Call me when you see a new Blockbuster open up on the corner.
In Pittsburgh, which the president claimed he was saving, Trump’s decision didn’t go over well. The city’s mayor denounced Trump’s “misguided decision to withdraw” and promptly set a goal to power his city from 100 percent renewable energy.
2. They’re all laughing, now
The president wants respect, and wants America respected. What he seems to have missed is the enormous international credit we got for bringing the world to a climate agreement in 2015.
Apparently, he can’t see how much resentment we’re now getting for abandoning that deal. Climate change is a global problem and solving it requires an all-in approach - that’s why the Paris accord is such an important first step.
The rest of the world – that’s 95 percent of global consumers we want to sell to – are going to see the country that has contributed the most climate pollution refusing to help fix the problem.
No one wants the United States to do more than our part, but we have to do our fair share. If not, we will suffer in every trade negotiation, every big business deal and every request for help. The Germans are already threating to stall talks to increase market access for our exports.
It’s not a stretch to say that the world is laughing at Trump’s justification for having the U.S. join Syria and Nicaragua as the only countries outside this deal.
3. There is no better deal, Mr. President
The self-styled deal-making president just gave up a bargain that was good for America, written on terms favorable to our sovereignty and our economy.
Trump said he wants to “renegotiate” the deal. Let’s set aside, for a minute, the fact that there’s nobody on the planet who really believes that the president wants to do that. Would it even be possible? The answer is an unequivocal no.
Under the Paris Agreement, every country determines its own path – so the idea of “renegotiating,” or leaving and then “reentering,” doesn’t even make sense. Besides, it’s not technically possible; the United Nations climate agency said so itself in an immediate response to the president’s announcement.
The rest of the world, which negotiated in good faith with the U.S. for 20 years to reach the Paris accord, isn’t interested, anyway. The leaders of Germany, France and Italy also quickly confirmed there would be no renegotiation.
At the end of the day, this means a slower and more expensive path to solve the climate problem – along with more asthma attacks for our kids, more health problems for our elderly parents and more economic damage from climatic shifts.
President Trump’s decision has seriously damaged the U.S. Without gaining anything, he has hurt our standing in the world and our economy. With a move built on fiction and bad math.
In time, that will be obvious – but we don’t have that much time.