Paris Agreement: What Experts Say vs. What the White House Says

Paris Agreement

In June, President Trump announced that the US will withdraw from the Paris Agreement. In his speech announcing his intention to pull the US out of the Paris Agreement, and several times in the years since, he made multiple false and misinformed statements.

PROCESS: The US is still party to the Paris Agreement

  • Trump has stated multiple times that the US could potentially rejoin the Paris Agreement if it were “a fair deal”. However, the US is still party to the Paris Agreement and will remain so until November 2020. Additionally, the US spent decades shaping the Agreement and it remains the best tool for holding major polluters accountable.
  • How would a withdrawal actually work? In August 2017, the State Department sent an email to the United Nations alerting the UN that the U.S. intends to withdraw. But, the Agreement states that notification cannot officially be given until November 2019—three years after the agreement went into force. At that point, the administration may formally notify the UN when the withdrawal will take effect, as long as that date is at least one year or more in the future. This puts the earliest potential withdrawal date at November 4, 2020—the day after the 2020 presidential election. For more information on the withdrawal process, see our Paris Agreement FAQ.

COMPETITIVENESS: Acting on Paris will increase US competitiveness and create jobs

  • There are now more than twice as many solar jobs as coal jobs in the U.S., while clean energy jobs outnumber fossil fuel jobs by three to one. The two fastest growing jobs in America are solar PV installer and wind turbine service technicians. In total, over 3 million Americans work in wind, solar, efficiency and other clean energy jobs. 
  • The NERA study cited by the President is wrong. They assume we’ll take the least efficient path to decarbonization, and that innovation in cleantech will slow down, instead of speed up. If it’s going to kill jobs and cost money, why are businesses so uniformly supportive? (One debunking by WRI, and another by economist Gary Yohe, and similar arguments rebutted by a variety of scientists)
  • An estimated $49 billion in economic benefits was associated with the Clean Power Plan, which was intended to be the U.S. tool to implement the Paris Agreement.
  • Withdrawing from Paris means the U.S. will miss out on huge financial opportunities. Transitioning to a low-carbon economy between now and 2030 can generate over $26 trillion globally in economic benefits.

COMMITMENTS: Paris extracted meaningful commitments from all the major polluters

  • China is already investing more than double the United States in clean energy. By 2030, China will install more renewable energy than US capacity in 2017 from all energy sources.
  • India’s solar and wind industries are booming, and it remains committed to Paris.
  • Paris also created a system to monitor and verify that countries like China and India would contribute their fair share.
  • The “bottom-up” approach meant that every country brought to the table only what it felt it could deliver. So no one’s getting a bad deal, because everyone chose what they would do.

ENERGY: The US risks being left behind on clean energy and out-competed by China if it leaves Paris

  • According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, almost 40 percent of the world’s renewable energy jobs were located in China in 2018. China is the leading producer of solar PV and accounted for nearly two-thirds — roughly 2.2 million — of solar PV jobs worldwide.
  • Wind power is now the largest source of zero-carbon emission power in the U.S., according to the Business Council for Sustainable Energy. Installed wind capacity totaled over 96 gigawatts in 2018, enough to power over 30 million homes. Wind power installed last year led to more than $12 billion in private investment.

CLIMATE: The deal is a great start that reduces the risk climate change poses to America

  • Reducing emissions in the energy and transport sectors could prevent almost 300,000 early deaths caused by air pollution each year in the US by 2030, according to a Duke University study.
  • The U.S. has experienced over $400 billion in weather and climate disaster costs since 2014. The U.S. economy is on track to lose hundreds of billions of dollars from climate impacts annually by the end of the century.
  • Rising seas, increased storm surge, and tidal flooding threaten $1 trillion in coastal infrastructure and property.
  • The MIT researchers whom Trump cites said in response, “this is not our finding.” Their analysis shows the Paris agreement would reduce future warming by 1 degree C (1.6°F) by 2100, if initial targets were met, with the potential for much more.
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