WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s announcement that the U.S. will leave the Paris climate accord came with a blast of hot air.
Here’s a reality check on some statements by Trump and his administration over the past week on global warming, jobs and other matters:
TRUMP: “The cost to the economy at this time would be 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.” — Rose Garden ceremony Thursday announcing U.S. withdrawal from the worldwide agreement to curb emissions responsible for global warming. GDP is the gross domestic product, the broadest gauge of the economy.
THE FACTS: His claim is based on a study paid for by two groups that have long opposed environmental regulation, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Council for Capital Formation. It makes worst-case assumptions that may inflate the cost of meeting U.S. targets under the Paris accord while largely ignoring the economic benefits to U.S. businesses from building and operating renewable energy projects.
Both groups behind the study get financial backing from those who profit from the continued burning of fossil fuels. The latter group has received money from foundations controlled by the Koch brothers, whose company owns refineries and more than 4,000 miles of oil and gas pipelines.
Academic studies have found that increased environmental regulation doesn’t actually have much impact on employment. Jobs lost at polluting companies tend to be offset by new jobs in green technology.
TRUMP: “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.” — Rose Garden ceremony.
THE FACTS: That may be so, but Allegheny County, which includes Pittsburgh, is not Trump country. It voted overwhelmingly for Democrat Hillary Clinton in November, favoring her by a margin of 56 percent to Trump’s 40 percent. The city has a climate action plan committing to boost the use of renewable energy.
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, a Democrat, has been an outspoken supporter of the Paris accord, and tweeted after Trump’s announcement that “as the Mayor of Pittsburgh, I can assure you that we will follow the guidelines of the Paris Agreement for our people, our economy & future.”
TRUMP: Claims “absolutely tremendous economic progress since Election Day,” adding “more than a million private-sector jobs.” — Rose Garden ceremony.
THE FACTS: The number is about right, but it in no way counts as “absolutely tremendous economic progress.” Private-sector job creation from October through April (171,000 private-sector jobs a month) actually lags just slightly behind the pace of job creation for the previous six months (172,000), which came under President Barack Obama. On Friday the government announced a lower figure for jobs added last month — 138,000.
TRUMP: “Our attacks on terrorism are greatly stepped up, and you see that — you see it all over — from the previous administration, including getting many other countries to make major contributions to the fight against terror. Big, big contributions are being made by countries that weren’t doing so much in the form of contributions.” — Rose Garden ceremony.
THE FACTS: Trump is recycling a misleading claim he made in April following a meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, and it’s no truer now than it was then. NATO has not substantively changed its mission toward countering terrorism as a result of Trump’s agitating.
As evidence that NATO is heeding his call to be more aggressive on terrorism, the president has cited an alliance decision last year to establish a high-level intelligence coordinator who could make the alliance more nimble in responding to threats. But that position was in the works under Trump’s White House predecessor, and came about because of worries about Russian aggression as well as from a desire to respond more effectively to the Islamic State group.
WHITE HOUSE: The Paris climate accord “would effectively decapitate our coal industry, which now supplies about one-third of our electric power.” — information released with Trump’s announcement.
THE FACTS: The U.S. coal industry was in decline long before the Paris accord was signed in 2015. The primary cause has been competition from cleaner-burning natural gas, which has been made cheaper and more abundant by hydraulic fracturing. Electric utilities have been replacing coal plants with gas-fired facilities because they are more efficient and less expensive to operate.
VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: The Paris deal has “really put an extraordinary burden on the American economy.” — Rose Garden ceremony.
THE FACTS: If so, it’s a burden the U.S. put on itself. Each signatory to the Paris accord was left to devise its own emission goals and how to reach them; the negotiations were not a case of the world imposing standards on the U.S. The burden the U.S. placed on itself under the Obama administration is in part a function of the country’s status as the largest source of accumulated carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere.
WHITE HOUSE, citing a study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology: “If all member nations met their obligations, the impact on the climate would be negligible,” curbing temperature rise by “less than 0.2 degrees Celsius in 2100.”
THE FACTS: The co-founder of the MIT program on climate change says the administration is citing an outdated report, taken out of context. Jake Jacoby said the actual global impact of meeting targets under the Paris accord would be to curb rising temperatures by 1 degree Celsius, or 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit.
“They found a number that made the point they want to make,” Jacoby said. “It’s kind of a debate trick.”
One degree may not sound like much, but Stefan Rahmstorf, a climate scientist at the Potsdam Institute in Germany, says, “Every tenth of a degree increases the number of unprecedented extreme weather events considerably.”
TRUMP: “We have a MASSIVE trade deficit with Germany … Very bad for U.S. This will change.” — tweet Tuesday.
THE FACTS: The U.S. has the world’s largest overall trade deficit, and has for four decades. Among trading partners, Germany’s contribution to that deficit last year was $55 billion, ranking it third on the list. For a truly massive deficit, see China, No. 1 at $347 billion.
Trump made no mention, though, of the benefits from the U.S.-German economic ties. About 600,000 people in the U.S. work for German companies such as chemical maker BASF, drug company Bayer and mobile phone provider T-Mobile USA. BMW’s auto plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina, was America’s largest single auto exporter, sending $9.5 billion worth of SUVs to the rest of the world.
Associated Press writers Paul Wiseman, Seth Borenstein and Michael Biesecker in Washington and David McHugh in Frankfurt, Germany, contributed to this report.
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EDITOR’S NOTE _ A look at the veracity of claims by political figures
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